A Chinese TV drama that highlights the country’s recent hard-handed anti-corruption campaign has been making waves since it made its debut on Hunan Satellite TV last week.
The 55-episode series adapted from the novel of the same name, “In the Name of the People”, is the first major production on the rarely touched anti-graft topic, with plotlines inspired by real-life cases involving high-ranking government officials.
The drama features a prosecutor’s investigation into a fictional province’s complex corruption network. It has been praised as groundbreaking for taking a state-level official as a villain, and for its explicit depiction of the political struggles in officialdom, as well as details about the arrests of corrupt officials, such as a villa that was found to contain banknotes worth 230 million yuan (33 million US dollars).
The novel’s author Zhou Meisen, who also wrote the screenplay for the TV drama, held a temporary post in the municipal government of Xuzhou city in east China’s Jiangsu province in 1995, and the one-year term helped him learn more about the way the government operates, Zhou said in an interview with Legal Evening News to explain the TV drama’s realistic plot.
He also spent some time at the People's Procuratorate of Pukou District in east China’s Nanjing city to get more material for his novel.
Zhou said corrupt officials were not demons, “they are also men of flesh and blood, but at last see their family and life ruined all due to their greed.” The prosecutors’ prodigious ability in handling the criminals also stunned him, “there is no hiding from any crimes,” Zhou told People's Daily.
With a cast of veteran actors such as Lu Yi, Zhang Fengyi and Hou Yong, the drama has become an immediate hit, winning widespread applause among viewers and critics. It has also become one of the highest-rated domestic TV dramas of all-time on local rating site Douban with a score of 8.8 out of 10, with 30,933 votes.
“The plot is great! The corrupt officials are detestable, but luckily we’ve also got some officials of integrity like the hero, or else the country would be precarious,” commented Sina Weibo user @mengmengloveforever.
Another user meanwhile drew comparisons with the Chinese government’s ongoing efforts to stamp out corruption.
“The drama shows the government’s efforts and achievements in its anti-corruption campaign, but that’s far from enough, there is still a long way to go,” said @wumingshu.
China launched a sweeping fight against corruption at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, with the aim of taking down all corrupt government officials, whether they are a "tiger" (powerful bureaucrat) or "fly" (low-ranking officer).
In 2016 alone, China's courts concluded 45,000 graft cases implicating 63,000 people, with convictions for 35 former officials at the provincial and ministerial level or above, and 240 at the prefecture level, according to a March work report of the Supreme People's Court (SPC).