Weekend Long Read: How China’s Individually Owned Businesses Were Dealt a ‘Knockout’ Blow
The poor fishmonger leans back in his chair. He raises his chin, trying to frighten off the hooligans bullying a fellow small business owner who runs a video store. Despite his tough demeanor, viewers can see the fishmonger’s right hand trembling behind his back.
This is Gao Qiqiang, the protagonist of the most popular TV series in China in 2023. Aired in January, the 39-episode crime drama called “The Knockout” quickly became the most talked-about show online. It has broken several records, such as becoming the most popular show on the streaming platform iQiyi, which reportedly crashed due to the number of users tuning in on the ninth day of its run. “The Knockout” was broadcast in over 65% of Chinese cities and received more than 300 million views in a single day, more than 10 times the number for the second most popular show.
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