‘House Of Cards’ Is Very Popular In China, And That Worries Washington

The second season of House of Cards is officially a hit in the United States. However, it’s also popular with viewers overseas.

Since folks living abroad are often very interested in how US politicians do business, a lot of people tune into the Netflix series to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a rarely-seen world. However, the fictionalized adventures of Frank Underwood don’t always paint a very positive image of the United States government in action.

House of Cards is apparently very popular in China, particularly with a few high-ranking officials who are completely fascinated with the way the US supposedly operates on a daily basis. This has caused some people in Washington to worry that people are getting the wrong idea.

“For Chinese, America is the big bugaboo in the world, so it makes sense that there’s interest in the intrigue and the power behind Washington. That said, it’s probably not a great thing if this is the only side they’re seeing. To truly understand US politics, I would prefer they watch C-SPAN, but that’s probably not realistic,” American Enterprise Institute Asian expert Michael Auslin told the Washington Post.

According to CNN, House of Cards is exclusively shown online courtesy of the video service Sohu. Although China often censors some of the programs available on the site — one episode of The Blacklist is presently unavailable — the Netflix show is available in all its glory despite portraying China in a somewhat negative light.

“We didn’t know the second season would have so much to do with China — probably because of the increasing importance of China in global affairs. Many Chinese people — including officials — are watching it now and we have had no problem,” Sohu’s Charles Zhang told the outlet.

China Daily columnist Raymond Zhou believes that House of Cards fans in China aren’t drawn to the show because of the way it portrays the country. On the contrary, Zhou believes the unsavory portrayal of the US government is why people in the region are thoroughly hooked.

“If you have to see the show as social commentary, I think it’s a strong diatribe against the political system in the US rather than against China. The narrative doesn’t fault China but rather just one individual from China,” Zhou explained.

It’s no secret that House of Cards is extremely popular in China. Business Insider points out that a large portion of season one’s 24.5 million views came from Beijing residents and government employees. In fact, Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Wang Qishan is reportedly “enthralled” with the program.

Are you surprised that House of Cards is incredibly popular in China? Do you think the program gives people the wrong impression about the US government?