Chinese artist arrested over T-shirt design referencing Tiananmen Square

UNIQLO says logo was added without permission

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Zhao Bang's T-shirt promotion picture (Source: Wechat)

Zhao Bang's T-shirt promotion picture (Source: Wechat)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Chinese artist Zhao Bang (趙邦) was arrested for a T-shirt design hinting at the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre, HK01 reports.

The design uses emojis to depict police surrounding and shooting civilians, which are arranged in a way that suggests the Chinese characters for “six" and "four” (六四) or “June 4,” the date the massacre took place. It is sold on Wechat @dixiaowei456 (繪畫藝術壞蛋店), an online shop with the same name as its owner, Di Xiaowei (邸小偉).


T-shirt design hinting at Tiananmen Square massacre (Source: Zhou Fengsuo Twitter)

Both Zhao and Di were arrested by the Chinese police. Overseas Chinese democratic activist Wang Zhongxia (王仲夏) took to Twitter to warn that the police are now investigating the buyers of the shirts, and called on the public to be aware of the Chinese government’s suppression of art expression.

Japanese apparel retailer UNIQLO has denied cooperation with Zhao and pointed out that its logo was added to the promotional photo without its permission, though UNIQLO said that it understood it as part of the artist’s creation. Another overseas Chinese activist, Zhou Fengsuo (周鋒鎖), who first revealed Zhao’s arrest, also confirmed on Twitter that the T-shirt was not UNIQLO's.

Zhao Bang was born in Luoyang in 1989. He has been living in Beijing after graduating from the China Academy of Art.