In the Name of the People

Source: SupChina (4/10/17)
Writer of anti-corruption TV series — and insurance regulator — investigated for corruption

Xiang Junbo 项俊波 was a PLA soldier who fought with Vietnamese forces in a border war in 1979 and went on to become a television writer and producer as well as a banker and financial regulator. He became chairman of the Agricultural Bank of China in 2009 before heading up the leadership role at the China Insurance Regulatory Commission. During his TV years, he wrote what Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao calls (in Chinese) the country’s “first television series about auditing work,” the popular 1986 show The People Will Not Forget (人民不会忘记 rénmín bù huì wàngjì).

The wags who write the headlines at have pointed out the irony (in Chinese) that just as the new anti-corruption TV drama In the Name of the People (see below for more) is becoming a hit, Xiang is starring in his own “reality TV version.” In a one-line statement (in Chinese) yesterday, the anti-corruption task force Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said that Xiang was being investigated for “severe violations of discipline.” The New York Times reports (paywall) that the news is “throwing doubt over an industry that has been behind a wave of blockbuster global deals but has raised concerns about financial risk.”

Xiang was connected with an investigation into impropriety when American authorities opened an inquiry into whether the bank JP Morgan Chase was hiring “children of powerful Chinese officials to help it win lucrative business.” In 2012, Xiang had met the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, and “asked him to hire a young woman who he said was the daughter of a close friend.” The bank settled the case for $264 million, but theTimes says Xiang was not accused of wrongdoing, and there is no indication whether that case is relevant to the new Chinese investigation.

Negative images of women in hit anti-corruption TV show

In the Name of the People (人民的名义 rénmín de míngyì), mentioned above, is China’s new Party-backed hit TV series that echoes the anti-corruption campaign initiated by President Xi Jinping. The show is clearly male dominated, as you can instantly tell from its promotional poster pictured above. The few female characters in the drama don’t depict positive roles for women, either:

  • Gao Xiaoqing 高小琴, a wealthy entrepreneur with a pretty face, is unable to escape the fate of being a mistress of not one but two senior officials.
  • Lu Yike 陆亦可, head of the anti-corruption department, faces constant nagging to get married from her parents and even her subordinates at work.
  • Zhong Xiaoai 钟小艾, deputy director of the Central Committee of Discipline Inspection, holds a higher position than her husband, yet she still needs to do most of the housework.

The All-China Women’s Federation has responded to the negative characterization of women in the TV show by calling for an immediate correction of women’s images in literary and artistic works: “Due to these works, years of efforts to promote the idea of gender equality will become fruitless,” the organization wrote (in Chinese) on Weibo. However, even if TV shows start projecting more positive images of women, the political reality is that there are very few women in positions of power in the Chinese government: See this article on the issue by the scholar Cheng Li.

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