March 24, 2017 / 3:34 AM / 2 years ago

Adrenalin-fueled TV drama to spur on China's war on graft

BEIJING (Reuters) - Helicopter chases, fridges full of cash and officials caught in bed with their foreign mistresses are all in a day’s work for China’s anti-graft prosecutors, according to a new state-backed TV drama aimed at bolstering China’s graft fight.

FILE PHOTO: China's Politburo Standing Committee member Wang Qishan, the head of China's anti-corruption watchdog, attends the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 5, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Lee/File Photo

“In the Name of the People”, a new show by propaganda department of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP), China’s top prosecutor, follows an intrepid SPP anti-graft investigator sent to a fictional province from Beijing to tackle corruption at the highest levels of local officialdom.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s has pledged that his multi-year war on graft, which has netted tens of thousands of officials, will continue until corruption is fully expunged, warning that the rot could threaten the ruling Communist Party’s existence if not cleared.

But academics have raised doubts about the campaign’s durability as Xi enters his second term after a leadership reshuffle later this year, arguing that resentment in the Party is likely to build if anti-graft measures continue at their current scope and intensity.

In the last year, the campaign has twice made it onto popular television, in the two mini-documentary series made by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), China’s top anti-graft body.

The TV-drama version of events, the first of its kind since the campaign began, shows the prosecutor leading an investigation that includes abseiling policemen and raids of official apartments where they uncover mattresses made from stacks of hundred yuan notes, according to the official advert.

The show will premier on March 28 on Hunan Television, China’s second most watched channel.

A famous Chinese novelist, Zhou Meisen, wrote the screenplay, as well as a novel by the same name published in January, with support from the SPP which allowed him to interview corrupt officials in jail.

“As the struggle against corruption comes up against an even greater mission and demand, we must push anti-corruption works to their highest peak, the sky is the limit,” Zhou told the official Beijing Daily in an interview published on Wednesday.

On Friday, the official Chinese People’s Publishing House unveiled an 11 volume series charting China’s fight against corruption over the past two millennia.

“We started doing this more than 2,000 years ago,” said Li Yongzhong, former head of the CCDI’s College of Supervision.

The SPP’s anti-graft bureau behind the TV drama is one of many graft-fighting bodies expected to be incorporated into a powerful new National Supervisory Commission, slated for next year, as China makes sweeping changes to its anti-corruption architecture designed to institutionalize the graft fight.

The new commission is expected to pave the way for Xi to retain his key ally and top graft buster Wang Qishan with the CCDI playing the central role in creating the commission.

Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry

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