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Are China’s leaders obsessed with “House of Cards?” They couldn’t possibly comment

Netflix / Reuters
Frank Underwood, meet Wang Qishan.
  • Adam Pasick
By Adam Pasick

Senior Editor

BeijingPublished This article is more than 2 years old.

As a member of China’s powerful Politburo Standing Committee and the official in charge of the Communist Party’s internal disciplinary body, Wang Qishan is in charge of rooting any potential threats or interlopers. So if Wang is drawing inspiration from the US political drama “House of Cards” and its ruthless protagonist, Sen. Francis Underwood, his enemies should be very, very afraid.

Hong Kong’s Phoenix Weekly (link in Chinese), citing an anonymous source, reports that Wang has “repeatedly brought up” the Netflix series in recent meetings with party officials. He’s especially interested, as Tea Leaf Nation noted, in the extreme lengths that Underwood goes to enforce party unity. Whether or not the report is true, there are more than a few similarities between the inner workings of China’s Zhongnanhai and Netflix’s fictional US Capitol—including inner-party cliques, schemes to conceal death and murder, and even leaks to the media that take down rivals.

We’ve culled a few choice quotes from “House of Cards” to suss out some of the lessons that Wang and other Chinese officials might be learning, and paired them with some recent moments in Chinese politics that Underwood would surely recognize.

Reuters/Carlos Barria
The carefully choreographed roll-out of China’s new Politburo Standing Committee members (from L to R) Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yunshan, Zhang Dejiang, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Yu Zhengsheng and Wang Qishan.
Venture capitalist Charles Xue was arrested, initially on charges of hiring a prostitute, as part of Beijing’s crackdown on influential bloggers.
Online content forwarded at least 500 times that is “defamatory or harms the national interest” carries a three-year prison sentence.
Charismatic former Politburo member Bo Xilai was sentenced to life in prison for bribery and embezzlement.
Reuters/Alexei Nikolsky
Wang meets with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
Reuters/Jason Lee
Wang sizes up former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Sources for quotes: Mashable, IMDB, The World According to GMonster.

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