According to Xinhua, “In the Name of the People” by Zhou Meisen has made its way through to the top of Amazon China’s Bestseller list as of Wednesday, July 26th, 2017. The electronic version also earned first place on the list of highest earning ebooks at the Amazon Kindle store.
Image Courtesy of Sohu
Published in January, “In the Name of the People” (Ren Min de Ming Yi) explores the constant struggle for power amongst political figures and their covert schemes of embezzlement.
Amazon attributed the success of this novel to the 2017 Chinese television series of the same name. Its gripping plot is set in the fictional city of Jingzhou and revolves around a prosecutor’s efforts at exposing the morally repugnant details of corruption. This TV series’ soaring popularity can be partly explained by the producer’s dramatic depiction of justice in a time of political chaos.
According to the Financial Times, China’s new TV show about how good it is at fighting corruption has reached 1.5 billion views, a figure that easily surpasses any Superbowl broadcasts or presidential debates. Since this hypersensitive subject is rarely broached in mainland China, it is understandable that their citizens should immediately loom over upon its initial release.
A judge caught in bed with a foreign prostitute in an episode of “In the Name of the People.” | Via Oriental Projection/YouTube
As a Chinese version of Netflix’s “House of Cards”, this 55-part manhunt for corrupt officials is sensationalistic to say the least. In one particular episode, a handsome detective enters a government official’s residence during an intense investigation and discovers countless stacks of cash stashed away in walls, fridges as well as mattresses. Caught red-handed, the corrupted official crawls on the floor and begs for mercy.
At the end of the day, we all wish the good to overcome the bad and the righteous to conquer the nefarious; this is why viewers exulted over the protagonist’s heroic efforts despite his awkward acting. Li Yong Zhong, deputy dean at the China Academy of Supervision and Discipline Inspection, where corruption investigators are trained, said to the Financial Times that the series’ overwhelming popularity “demonstrates that the public have a very strong urge to see clean politics in China”.
Chinese Actor Lu Yi as the chief investigator and the star of the show | Via BBC
“This TV drama feels so real. It really cheers people up,” one viewer wrote on social media network Weibo, as reported by the BBC.
“I shed tears after watching this drama. This is the tumour of corruption that has been harming the people,” said another Weibo commenter.
Released two months following the publication of Zhou’s book of concentrated corruption, this TV series was also written by Zhou himself. According to the BBC, Zhou received specific instructions on not speaking to “any foreign media”.
Uncommon as it is, corrupt government officials have been pulled out from the shadows and presented in front of a national audience through tv screens. Unfortunately, whether this is truly a form of moral justification for the people or propaganda efforts at its best, it will be up to the viewers themselves to decide.
Featured Image Courtesy of PYMNTS