In the small hours of July 10, the day of the opening of the fifth annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington, some graffiti artists “visited” the Chinese Embassy and left their work on its façade: the Chinese character 拆 (meaning to dismantle), generating a wave of discussion on Weibo, China’s biggest social networking platform.
Front gate of the Chinese Embassy with the graffiti characters on the morning of July 10. Photo: takungpao.com
The character is commonly seen in China, in the countryside and as well as in the cities. Written on the buildings that are marked to be torn down to make room for new construction sites, it is a by-product of China’s over-heated construction boom amid its rapid economic development. Moreover, it has become a symbol of the Chinese government’s “bullying” policy that allows forceful and sometimes violent demolition of private properties against their owner’s will.
Many Weibo users pointed out that the "authentic" sign should be written in red with a circle, as shown in the picture. Photo: baidu.com
Protests against the government’s forceful demolition of private property have been going on for years in China, mostly to no avail. The act of putting the demolition sign on the Chinese Embassy in the US is understood by many as a manifestation of people’s strong opposition to the Chinese government’s behavior, with some calling those who wrote it “national heroes” in their Weibo posts. There are also many who consider it as merely a silly prank. Others, however, found it inappropriate and shameful. “I challenge you to write it on the wall of Zhongnanhai!” wrote one of the Weibo users. (Zhongnanhai 中南海 is the central headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council.)
A cleaner wiping off the graffiti, but not before pictures of it went viral on the Internet in China. Photo: takungpao.com