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Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign

Producers of hit TV show about corruption in China facing US$2.7m plagiarism suit

Former investigative journalist claims plot, characters and storyline of top-rated drama were lifted from her 2010 novel

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 November, 2017, 7:06pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 November, 2017, 8:24pm

A novelist has gone to court seeking 18 million yuan (US$2.7 million) in compensation from the producers of a popular Chinese television drama over alleged plagiarism, local media reported.

The case, which was heard by Pudong District People’s Court in Shanghai on Wednesday, was brought by Liu Santian against the production team behind In the Name of People, a drama about a government anti-corruption campaign, The Beijing News reported on Sunday.

The show, which first hit screens in March, tells the stories of a group of corrupt Chinese officials – from a grass-roots party cadre to a deputy premier in the central government – in vivid detail. Such a show has never before been seen on Chinese television and the series’ 52 episodes have attracted huge audiences.

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But Liu claimed that the entire plot, characters and storylines of the show were stolen from her novel Black Box, which was published in 2010.

The former investigative journalist with state broadcaster China Central Television was quoted as saying that her book was based on interviews and research she had conducted over many years.

Both the novel and the television show opened with a large-scale protest by workers at a state-owned factory that was on the brink of bankruptcy, Liu said.

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However, in a statement read out in court, Zhou Meisen, the show’s scriptwriter, said he was unaware of Liu and had not read any of her work.

“This amateurish writer cannot prevent others from writing about [this subject] because she has written an amateurish work,” the statement said, adding that many of the corruption problems China had faced over the past three decades had “similar traits”.

Zhou said the allegation was “ridiculous” and that he was considering filing a counter claim for defamation.