16 February 2019
Qin Empire 3 has found itself in a controversy after it used the names of Chinese elite to depict some characters in an episode. Photos: Baidu, YouTube
Qin Empire 3 has found itself in a controversy after it used the names of Chinese elite to depict some characters in an episode. Photos: Baidu, YouTube

China TV drama creates buzz by using names of top leaders

A Chinese TV drama series has fueled intense chatter in online forums as an episode has featured a scene where bad guys had names that appeared to be a take-off on prominent political figures.

Netizens are circulating a video clip from the latest installment of The Qin Empire 3, the third part of The Qin Empire series, which aired on Wednesday and had some controversial references.

In the clip that has gone viral on YouTube, a Qin official is seen opening a list of names carved on bamboo sheets, identifying people suspected to be Zhao spies who could be possibly bribed.

Although the names are written in Xiaozhuan, a style of Chinese calligraphy, alert viewers noted that the list had some familiar names including Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Hu Jintao, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, and Li Changchun.

The use of the names of China’s current or former leaders set audiences wondering as to whether it was an attention-grabbing tactic on the part of the producers of the TV series or if there was more to it.

Especially so, as the episode was aired just days ahead of the “Two Sessions”, when China’s top leaders and party officials gather for annual conclaves.

The Qin Empire series is a costume drama that chronicles events that purportedly took place in China during the rise of the Qin state more than 2200 years ago.

Episode 30 of the third part of the series, which first kicked off in 2009, was aired on Wednesday, bearing controversial references.

While some netizens thought it was just a careless mistake by crew members of the drama, there were some who suspected that the names were used deliberately to draw attention.

The debate was especially intense as it is politically sensitive period in China, the Hong Kong Economic Journal noted.

The so-called Two Sessions, China’s most important political events every year, are set to kick off in Beijing this week.

The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the nation’s top political advisory body, will begin its annual session on Friday, followed by a gathering of the National People’s Congress (NPC) two days later.

After the scene became a hot topic online, many media websites that have being airing the drama, including China Central Television (CCTV), removed it temporarily from their platforms to delete the footage, according to reports.

Meanwhile, authorities were also said to have scrubbed online comments made by people on the matter.

As the annual conclaves of China’s political leaders and top officials are keenly watched both at home and abroad, people are curious about the whole incident.

Apple Daily reporters, meanwhile, said they noticed that the clothes worn by the Qin official in the video clip are different from what he is seen wearing in the original version.

The paper said it was unable to reach the director and the producer of the drama series to get their comments.

It not known whether they and the others behind the TV episode were called in for questioning by authorities.

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