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About line 21


The Line 21 Project is an online resource focusing on contemporary state propaganda – both internal and external – in the People’s Republic of China. The project manages a collection of contemporary propaganda images on this website, tweets regularly via its twitter presence and provides analysis and commentary on Chinese propaganda, public diplomacy and soft power via its Wordpress blog.

Image collection 

Many websites feature Chinese propaganda poster image collections, and a number of these provide profoundly important examples and commentaries. Key collections focus on socialist propaganda of the Mao era, and particularly the Cultural Revolution period (1966-76), which has become a major area of collection and analysis. 

The Line 21 Project focuses exclusively on outdoor propaganda produced during the post-Jiang Zemin era (2002 onwards). It aims to present examples of propaganda objects in such a way that reflects the connections between their messages and their commuter / pedestrian audiences. Thus they are presented not as gallery artefacts but as actors within a dynamic dialogic and semiotic system in the cityscape of 21st century China. 

This aim is achieved through presenting images of propaganda photographed in their physical streetscape context from the vantage point of their intended audiences. These images are accompanied by Google Maps references that pinpoint their locations and provide for an awareness of their broader context within their neighbourhood surrounds. 

The project’s name, Line 21 – a fictitious subway line, reflects this aim. Most outdoor advertising is located for maximum market impact, and is therefore found at major commuter touchpoints – at bus stops and train stations, along sidewalks and main streets, beside orbital and arterial roads and at major pedestrian traffic areas. Thus Line 21’s galleries are classified and named according to their commuter context: 'along the sidewalk', 'on the street', 'at the bus stop', and so on. 

Contrary to scholarly arguments that describe the demise of poster propaganda and its receding relevance in reform-era China, the project asserts that such propaganda has found a new and commanding voice within China's increasingly congested advertising airwaves. 

Rather than cramming the commuter headspace with dangerous levels of untamed consumerism, the commercialization of transport hubs and arteries during China's recent economic rise has provided new platforms for the dissemination of sanitary officially-sponsored messaging. Line 21 highlights this seemingly contradictory contemporary reality.


The Line 21 galleries comprise almost 500 images with commentary. All images may be reproduced without permission so long as they are appropriately attributed. If you would like full-size images from our collection please contact us at If you would like to contribute your ideas and/or images to the Line 21 Project, please contact us.

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