Facebook.com/House of Cards
I enjoyed watching both seasons of House of Cards, Netflix's shadowy and Shakespearean political comedy/tragedy/farce portraying the rise of the ruthless politician Frank Underwood. But I tried not to take it too seriously. After all, Washington's political elite might be out of touch with the rest of the country — as shown by years of awful Congressional approval ratings — but House of Cards is a work of fiction, and a dark, murderous, and cynical one at that.
Cui Tiankai, China's Ambassador to the United States, on the other hand, thinks House of Cards faithfully mirrors real life:
"I have seen both seasons of House of Cards, which I think embodies some of the characteristics and corruption that is present in American politics," said Cui Tiankai, speaking as a participant on a televised People’s Daily panel coinciding with the Chinese People’s Political Consultive Conference.
The Chinese diplomat, who previously studied in Washington, DC — the setting of House of Cards' intricate political machinations — added that the show's story of bipartisan competition and corruption largely mirrored recent affairs. [South China Morning Post]
Of course, some Chinese people disagreed with the ambassador. While America's political system might be bad, they reasoned, it can't be as bad as China's one-party dictatorship:
Members of China's online microblogging community offered an alternate voice, and several criticized Cui for his comments.
"Americans are such that they do not hide their drawbacks, and through debate, constantly compromise to improve their government," one Sina Weibo commentator wrote. "They see the problems of their [government], and also recognize their own shortcomings."
"Of course there are issues with a two party system," mused another blogger. "But a one party dictatorship can really harm people." [South China Morning Post]
These critics are right. According to Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, while the United States is the 19th least corrupt nation in the world, China ranks a lowly 80th.