The first episode of the new Chinese produced TV show “In the Name of the People” aired March 28, 2017. A total of 55 episodes were produced and broadcast. This program is a very interesting piece of propaganda for many reasons (see below). At least the first 11 eleven episodes have been subtitled in English are available on YouTube. I highly recommend watching at least the first three episodes to get a feel for what it is really like. By the end of the third episode, one story is at least partially resolved. They catch a bad guy and he cries hysterically about what a bad guy he is – very melodramatic. The first episode is here:
There has been a lot of reporting on it. Here are a few samples:
‘Before it went on air, the series was expected to reach some 300 million viewers, but by the second week in April, it had already beaten that target. Online streaming platform iQiyi.com says the show has been watched more than 660 million times. On another platform, Youku, the show has been viewed nearly 200 million times.
“In the name of the People” is fully endorsed by the Communist Party through the Film and TV Center under the Supreme People’s Procurate of China and the Logistic Support Department of the Central Military Commission’s Jin Dun TV.
Unlike previous propaganda drama series such as “The Liberation” (2009) and “The East” (2011), which evolved around the founding of the Communist Party, “In the Name of the People”, is contemporary. It is adapted from a novel of the same title by Zhou Meisen which follows anti-graft investigators efforts in taking down corrupt officials.
The investigators are portrayed in modern, FBI fashion. Scenes including busting an official in bed with a lover, and a wall of cash hidden in the home of another, mark striking resemblances to some recent real life cases.’
‘Chinese state media has extensively covered crackdowns on corrupt officials, and TV networks have rolled out documentaries showing officials confessing on camera and sobbing with remorse – even China’s anti-corruption agency did a show about corruption within its ranks.
In The Name of The People is thus the latest piece of propaganda aimed at portraying the government’s victory in its anti-corruption campaign.
“For a long time, many people thought that if we kept our eyes closed, there wouldn’t be any corruption,” Mr Zhou said. “Many government officials in charge of culture have become security hawks blocking the public from seeing artistic works on anti-corruption.”
He said he aimed to show that corrupt officials were not all “monsters” and were real people – but at the end of the day, the good people always win.
He made sure that Hou Liangping – the hero of In The Name Of the People – did not come from a privileged background with a lot of political connections, so that the character would be more “idealised”.
“We all badly need heroes, upright law-enforcing heroes like Hou Liangping.”’
An interesting take on the show comes from ABC of Australia: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-05/chinas-new-political-drama-is-no-house-of-cards/8499648
‘Television has been a powerful medium in most countries for mass political manipulation since the 1950s, and it remains so today despite the media’s ever-changing ecology.
In China, television is hands-down the preferred battleground for garnering public support and influencing public opinion in favour of Mr Xi’s corruption crackdown.
Since 2016, grief-stricken corrupt officials have been seen confessing their crimes in tears on primetime news and in documentaries produced by the Government’s corruption watchdog agency.
Now, the Government has opted for entertaining television dramas aimed at a mass audience. Apart from the current hit, 11 additional primetime dramas about China’s corruption sweep are expected to hit screens in millions of households later this year.
This deluge can be expected to shape the public narrative in China about the Xi administration’s anti-graft campaign and its grand achievements.
For now, it has become obligatory to watch In the Name of the People in China. That’s actually literally the case in some cities where state cadres are required to watch and write reviews of no less than 1,500 words.
Perhaps others watch it in the hope of learning how to survive political power struggles. And the whole nation seems to be following the show to catch up on trending topics of national relevance, both online and offline.
But public discussion about the drama appears to be herded towards the Government’s preferred direction: positive. On Zhihu, a Quora-like knowledge-sharing Chinese website with more than 20 million users, of 169 answers in the thread “how to comment on In the Name of the People”, 145 answers have been removed. Most were taken down for being “politically sensitive” according to the website.
The show is unprecedented in China because it tackles the delicate matter of official corruption. But what and how much is revealed on the show are dictated not by viewer interest or the market.
The show’s title echoes Beijing’s official rhetoric of “serving the people”. Unsurprisingly, this has been a decades-long catchcry in media narratives, which are themselves told to “serve the party”.’