CCP's 'approved' anti-graft drama a big hit

In The Name Of The People focuses on the work of anti-graft investigators whose job is to take down corrupt government officials, whether "tigers" (powerful bureaucrats) or "flies" (low-ranking officers).
In The Name Of The People focuses on the work of anti-graft investigators whose job is to take down corrupt government officials, whether "tigers" (powerful bureaucrats) or "flies" (low-ranking officers).

HONG KONG • A drama series featuring high-level government corruption, the chronic hot-button issue in China, is making waves in the country - with the apparent blessings of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Starring a "deputy state-level official" as the villain and replete with foreign mistresses, special weapons and tactics operations, and a bed made of banknotes, In The Name Of The People had received 170 million views by Tuesday since its March 28 debut.

It is being shown on a Chinese entertainment website and television channels which are licensed to broadcast it.

The 56-episode series stars veteran actors Lu Yi and Zhang Fengyi and is slated to run nightly until May 1.

It is built around a complex corruption case brought to light by conflict at a factory in a fictional province.

Starring a "deputy state-level official" as the villain and replete with foreign mistresses, special weapons and tactics operations, and a bed made of banknotes, In The Name Of The People had received 170 million views by Tuesday since its March 28 debut.

It focuses on the work of anti-graft investigators whose job is to take down corrupt government officials, whether "tigers" (powerful bureaucrats) or "flies" (low-ranking officers).

Media outlets like CNBC and Hong Kong's South China Morning Post have likened the show to American political drama House Of Cards.

The Chinese series is built around fictional internal power plays within the ruling Communist Party, as well as the lifestyles of senior officials, although it ultimately hails the anti-corruption campaign of Chinese President Xi Jinping and his key ally Wang Qishan, noted SCMP.

"It has some significance as a 'main theme' drama premiering before the 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China," analyst Wan Yuchen of the China Market Research Group told CNBC in an e-mail.

The term "main theme" is often used to refer to productions, including films and television series, that feature similar overarching themes with government policies, Ms Wan said.

The 19th Party Congress, expected to be held in the autumn, will see Mr Xi looking to further cement his grip on power.

Although formal regulations banning the broadcast of television shows about corruption have never been issued, Chinese producers have avoided the topic after a 2004 "recommendation" from the country's media watchdog, reported CNBC.

That recommendation suggested that works about anti-corruption not be broadcast during prime time to "protect the youth".

The recommendation has since been rolled back.

The State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television told the local media that it has commissioned at least two films and two television shows focusing on bribery each year, trade publication China Film Insider reported.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2017, with the headline 'CCP's 'approved' anti-graft drama a big hit'. Print Edition | Subscribe