Literary creation must have a line in the sand: anti-drug authority slams novel romanticizing drug dealer
Published: Jan 06, 2023 12:14 AM

Anti-drug authorities in Southwest China's Sichuan Province on Wednesday slammed a web novel romanticizing a drug dealer, which misled readers to post comments slandering anti-drug police and saying they "deserve to die."

The novel beautifies the image of drug dealers through the filter of love and romance and using the tone of the protagonist to rationalize drug dealers' criminal behavior. This is completely unacceptable as this perspective can confuse young readers from telling right from wrong, as can be seen from their responses on social media.

"Literary creation must have a line in the sand. Please don't chill our heroes' hearts. China has always held zero-tolerance attitude toward drugs. History cannot be allowed to repeat itself. Drug prohibition will continue as long as drug trafficking exists," the Sichuan Provincial Administration of Drug Rehabilitation said in a statement on its official Sina Weibo account.

The web novel mainly tells the story about a woman who volunteers as an undercover agent to avenge her boyfriend - an anti-drug policeman who was killed in the line of duty. She pretends to fall in love with the drug lord who killed her boyfriend so she can bring him to justice.

The novel was published in 2019 by a publishing house based in East China's Jiangxi Province.

While the author attempts to soften the image of the drug lord by relating his poor life decisions to miserable life experiences, at the end of the day, no matter how "tragic" his background, he is still nothing but a criminal.

Freedom of creation is something to be advocated for, but works that romanticize "drug life" cannot be entertained. This is a topic that must be dealt with the upmost seriousness as it involves countless anti-drug policemen who shed blood, sweat and tears to bring us the current happiness and well-being that our society enjoys.

According to statistics, the death rate of anti-narcotics police is 4.9 times that of other police officers and the injury rate is 10 times higher. Every arrest mission is a fight for life. As of June 2021, a total of 33 anti-drug policemen had sacrificed their lives since 2017, according to the Ministry of Public Security.

"The story is absurd and illogical. Publishing houses should adhere to moral limits when selecting topics. They should write biographies for heroes, and let the heroic spirit guide our society," Shang Yu, the deputy director of the Yunnan People's Publishing House, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Yu Kun, an employee with the Publishing Product Quality Inspection Center in East China's Zhejiang Province, told the Global Times on Thursday that these types of "drug" novels that challenge legal and moral limits seriously distort the values of young readers and hurt the feelings of the public and frontline anti-drug police forces.

China's online literature has seen a boom in development in recent years, becoming an important platform for conveying values and promoting culture among young readers. However, some authors have turn to vulgar content that violates ethical and moral standards in order to catch readers' attention and turn a profit. Publishers and web platforms must implement a review and publication process to strengthen content control.

According to media reports, the book is currently no longer available on book platforms such as Dangdang and The publishing house stated they have removed the novel after receiving feedbacks from readers.

The author is an editor of the Global Times.