TV drama names Xi as traitor

Source: SCMP (3/3/17)
Censors step in after Chinese TV drama scene names Xi Jinping as ‘traitor’
Names of Chinese president and other top leaders featured in period drama scene listing spies from the rival camp
By Kinling Lo

The offending scene was immediately censored after screenshots of it were circulated online. Photo: Handout

The scene, which appeared in an episode of the Qin Empire 3 drama series, was aired on state broadcaster China Central Television last Tuesday.

It showed the names of Xi and other top Chinese leaders including Premier Li Keqiang, former president Hu Jintao, former premier Wen Jiabao, written in ancient Chinese script on bamboo slips.

In the show, the names on the bamboo slips listed traitors who were spying for the rival state of Zhao that the Qin army was trying to identify.

The surname Zhao, or “a member of the Zhao family”, is a euphemism used in recent years to describe China’s rich and powerful elites. The term has its roots in Chinese writer Lu Xun’s political satire The True Story of Ah Q, which featured a wealthy landlord who went by that surname.

An actor reads the scroll in Qin Empire 3

Despite the scene airing for less than three seconds, eagle-eyed viewers spotted the names and quickly posted screenshots and short clips of it online, creating a momentary buzz before the censors stepped in.

Among internet users’ discussions, some speculated that the scene had been added post-production as the collar of the actor holding the list appeared different from that in the previous scene.

On Friday, while several Hong Kong and Taiwanese news sites carried reports about the incident, none could be found on mainland news sites.

All videos containing the scene had been taken down or censored on mainland media websites. Most online discussions and blog posts of the scene had also been removed.

One comment remained, however, on Douban, a mainland movie-streaming platform: “The producer is going to be so dead.”

The comment added that the scene played at the 19:23 mark of that episode.

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