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China’s Attempt to Steer Covid Narrative in TV Drama Backfires

  • New CCTV drama series sees online backlash and criticism
  • Users say women’s contributions, doctors’ hardships ignored
The China Central Television headquarters in Beijing.

The China Central Television headquarters in Beijing.

Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Backlash against a new Chinese television drama about its fight against Covid-19 underscores the challenges facing Beijing as it attempts to steer the narrative about its handling of the pandemic.

Eight episodes of the propaganda series “Heroes in Harm’s Way” have aired since Thursday on state broadcaster China Central Television, and were criticized on Chinese social media. That included calls for the 14-episode series to be pulled from the air, with people saying it minimized women’s contributions to containing the virus and failed to reflect the hardship endured by medical workers.