Power versus Law


Power versus Law
(Quan yü fa)
Huaju (spoken drama)
Written by Xing Yixun and premiered at the China Youth Art Theatre in 1979, Power versus Law (Quan yü fa) was one of the most popular Huaju (spoken dramas) of the late 1970s, when artists and audiences were excited by the fresh possibilities offered by the theatre—and permitted by the new post-Mao political regime—for denouncing the Cultural Revolution. Seen today as a typical example of an anti-‘Gang of Four’ play, Power versus Law depicts a new Party Secretary, Luo Fang, and his efforts to protect the innocent and punish the guilty. Luo wins the trust of Ding Mu, an accountant who has been coerced into cooking the books so as to hide the fact that state funds have been diverted from their original purpose of helping refugees after a natural disaster to building a luxurious house for a Party official named Cao Da.
Encouraged by Luo, Ding succeeds in exposing Cao. Set in 1978, the play raised a timely issue: do those in power have the right to abuse their power and take reprisals against those who challenge them? The critique of privilege and corruption was cleverly balanced by the creation of a positive Party official, who thereby affirmed the legitimacy of the Party, although to some viewers his character seemed too good to be true. At the very least, however, Luo Fang embodied hope for a better and more just future, and the play satisfied both audiences, who sought catharsis in theatre, and the censors, eager to see that the new theatre in post-Mao China adhered to a socialist realist orientation.
Xing, Yixun (1980). ‘Power versus Law’. Chinese Literature 6:31–91.
CHEN XIAOMEI

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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