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China’s Latest Anti-Corruption Drama Marks a New Era of Openness

2017-04-13 20:25:11 Haley Liu

A honest-looking man eats noodles at his plainly decorated home, turns out to be a corrupt official who hides his cash stuffing it in closets, beds and fridge; whilst claiming to be the 'son of peasants'. This gripping plot has impressed Chinese viewers of the anti-corruption TV series "In the Name of People", which has been compared to the American political drama House of Cards, which is immensely popular in China. It has received a huge following online, it premiered on premiered on provincial station Hunan Satellite Television and video-streaming sites on March 28 with the first episode receiving over 1.47 billion times on online streaming platform Aiqiyi.

It has been the highest rating TV drama since it was aired, with an audience score of 8.6 on Douban, a Chinese social networking service website allowing users to discuss film, TV programs, books, and music. On China's social media Weibo, the hashtag #IntheNameofPeople has been searched 1.44 billion times and received 815,000 comments.

Zhao was found hiding the cash received as bribes in the wall and fridge

Built around an intriguing corruption case brought to light by a conflict at a factory in the fictional province Handong, the drama depicts how anti-graft investigators take down and put in jail corrupt government officials, whether they are "tiger" (powerful officials) and "flies" (low-ranking officials). The show is adapted from a novel by Chinese novelist Zhou Meisen, who was previously deputy Secretary General of Xuzhou government in Jiangsu province. During his last years in the position, he kept a close watch on the news of China's intensified anti-graft campaign.

The novel "In the Name of People" has also been proved a hit. According to the salesperson of one of the libraries in Taioyuan, the capital of Shanxi province, 160 newly delivered novels sold out in less than half an hour.

"In the Name of People" is the first TV drama to feature high-level government corruption as a central theme since 2004. Although authorities never formally banned TV shows covering this sensitive topic, SAPRFT State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television issued a notice "suggesting" that corruption-themed TV dramas were not be broadcast during primetime hours to "protect the youth".

However, when Chinese President Xi Jinping took office in 2012 and launched a sweeping campaign against corruption, news and TV programmes about graft reappeared. The crackdown of corrupt officials has been extensively covered, informing citizens of the sum of corruption, how investigators and police hunted corrupt officials overseas, and exposing their indecent personal lives. Last year, China Central Television (CCTV) worked with the Commission for Discipline Inspection (CIPD) and rolled out a documentary called "Always on the Road", showing officials confessing on camera. The hit show cost 120 million yuan to produce - not a large sum compared with other dramas acted by popular celebrities. Lu Han, a popular singer and actor who was criticized for his poor performance, earned 1.2 million yuan by filming the drama Fighter of the Destiny – that is the total expense of the cast of "In the Name of People" funded by the Supreme People's Procuratorate. The show has received positive views. "I gave up on the show when I heard its name for the first time, but it turned out to be an earth-shattering show," one viewer wrote on Weibo. Another said, "The show marks the beginning of a new era."

"In the Name of People" is truly a remarkable drama. I was hooked from episode 1. This is the charm of experienced and excellent actors.

“This is the only drama for which I stayed up late watching. It marks the beginning of a new era, just like the anti-corruption campaign."

The most popular character is Li Dakang, a blunt party chief obsessed with GDP growth and who isstabbed in the back by his wife and subordinates. Viewers have make online memes featuring the character.

I agree.

What can I say?

Naive. In recent years, China has intensified its effort to fight corruption. According to report released bySupreme People's Court report released in March, China's court system dealt with 45,000 corruption cases that involved 63,000 people in 2016. 35 of them were officials at provincial or ministerial level, and 240 of them were at prefectural levels.

(header photo Zhao Dehan Department Director in China's Ministry "There's nothing to be investigated at my home.")

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