Piled-up (一摞摞的) bills, murders, escapes. You may think these are things seen only in gang (黑帮) movies, but they are actually from Chinese political TV series In the Name of People (《人民的名义》), which began airing on March 28.
The 55-episode TV series was based on a novel of the same name by famous political novelist Zhou Meisen, 61. Different from other political-themed stories, In the Name of People attracts both older and younger audiences. This may be because it is mostly based on real cases.
For example, the drama is built around a corruption (腐败) case brought to light by conflicts (冲突) at a factory in a fictional province. The corrupt officials in the story are a combination of real former senior leaders, including Zhou Yongkang and Xu Caihou.
This is also why the novel has been called groundbreaking (开创性的). It describes a deputy state-level (副国级的) official as a villain (反派). This presents audiences with a picture of Chinese authority in the ongoing anti-corruption campaign.
“The novel not only shows the complexity and difficulty of the battle against corruption. Rather, Zhou makes a deep inquiry (探究) into what makes a politician’s soul twisted (扭曲的),” literary critic He Shaojun told China Daily.
According to Zhou, there are many things that may lead to the corruption of an official. Weakness of character, the temptations (诱惑) present in an official career, and traps (陷阱) set by other people are all reasons he gives. “But actually, the real reason is the development of human greed (贪婪), with the power not being supervised (监督) properly,” he told China Daily.
And Zhou knows this from personal experience.
To gain deeper understanding of politics for his writing, he took a one-year job as a deputy secretary general in the city government of Xuzhou, Jiangsu, in 1994. During this time, Zhou found that he was treated much better than a regular person.
“I was just a common man before I took this job, and I had no idea of what privilege (特权) was like until I became a deputy secretary general in the city government,” Zhou told China Daily. This job made him realize that power is something that one can easily become addicted to (上瘾).
But it was also this experience that enabled Zhou to describe his characters with more detail. “I don’t consider corrupt officials as demons (恶魔). They are human. I try to explore their inner conflicts after they fall from high positions,” he told Beijing News.