China's Top Government Officials Love Watching This Show

Spoilers for Netflix's House of Cards season one below. You've been warned!

The news: Some of China's top officials are apparently obsessed with Netflix's House of Cards. Hong Kong's Phoenix Weekly reports that China's powerful Politboro Standing Committee member and chief Communist Party disciplinarian Wang Qishan has repeatedly "brought up" the show in recent hearings with other party officials.

As the man in charge of sniffing out any potential dissent, power-grabbers, or potential threats to the authority of the Chinese Communist Party, Qishan is a very scary man to be drawing inspiration from House of Card's Frank Underwood indeed.


Tea Leaf Nation suggests that Qishan might be drawing the wrong lesson from the show, noting that the original Chinese article says that he "attached great importance" to the role of minority whip Underwood in maintaining "party unity." Underwood, of course, is capable of using everything from threats to treachery to straight-up murder to intimidate or force his colleagues into line. Tea Leaf Nation argues that's not a favorable strategy for Qishan, whose job is to maintain the rule of law.

But that sounds a little naive for a party whose methods of cracking down on corruption have dovetailed nicely with efforts to silence dissent and isn't above covering up death and concealing murder.


When it comes to brutal behind-the-scenes politics, blows can be pretty nasty. China is no different, despite its carefully manufactured facade of order. The power players behind Chinese politics are very bit as spirited, political, and ruthless as American congressmen.

Quartz compiled some lessons that Qishan could take away from Underwood. See some samples below, and the rest after the jump.


Chinese Politoboro Standing Committee members pose in a carefully choreographed roll-out. Qishan pictured on far right.


Bo Xilai stands trial for bribery and embezzlement, receiving a life sentence.

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Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

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