News / Asia

China's Nobel Literature Winner Defends State Censorship

Mo Yan, Chinese winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, demonstrates Chinese calligraphy to a student during a visit to a high school in Lidingo, outside Stockholm, Dec. 7, 2012.
Mo Yan, Chinese winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize in Literature, demonstrates Chinese calligraphy to a student during a visit to a high school in Lidingo, outside Stockholm, Dec. 7, 2012.
VOA News
Chinese author Mo Yan, who has been criticized for his links to the country's Communist leaders, defended state censorship and avoided discussing human rights issues as he prepared to accept the Nobel prize in literature.

A visibly uncomfortable Mo, whose pen name means "don't speak," told reporters at a press conference in Stockholm on Thursday that censorship is sometimes necessary, comparing it to airport security checks.

"I've never given any compliments to the system of censorship, but I also believe that censorship exists in every country of the world," he said. "The only difference is the degree and way in which censorship happens."

The 57-year-old author, who will receive the Nobel prize Monday, suggested he would not sign a petition by 134 fellow Nobel laureates calling for the release of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner serving an 11-year prison term for inciting subversion.

Mo, who is reluctant to speak against Chinese leaders, surprised his critics in October when he said he hoped Liu could achieve his freedom as soon as possible. But on Thursday, he refused to support Liu again, saying he had already issued his opinion on the matter.

"I have always been independent," he said. "I like it that way. When somebody forces me to do something, I will never do it. When I want to speak, I will speak. When I am forced to express my opinion, I will not do it.

Joshua Rosenzweig, a Hong Kong-based human rights analyst, said in an interview with VOA that is difficult to tell Mo's stance on Beijing's political repression of dissidents and artists.

"Many people interpreted [Mo's remarks] as sympathetic, as saying he wished [Liu] could be released from prison," said Rosenzweig. "But others have interpreted that as he wished that Liu Xiaobo would not criticize the government and would repent of his actions and therefore be released by the government."

Rosenzweig also questioned Mo's comparison of state censorship policies to those meant to protect against terrorism.

"Censorship in China is designed primarily to protect the state from being criticized, whereas we get patted down on an airplane to protect us all from acts of terrorism or other dangers," he said. "The 'danger' here that the security laws and censorship laws in China are designed to prevent are dangers to the political regime, rather than danger to individuals."

Several Chinese dissidents, including artist Ai Weiwei and activist Hu Jia, have said that Mo is unworthy of winning the prestigious Nobel literature prize because of his political affiliations and reluctance to speak on human rights.

Mo, who was accompanied on the trip to Sweden by a Chinese government official, told reporters that he received the prize because of his literary works, not for his politics.

You May Like

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: ChasL from: Seattle, WA
December 10, 2012 2:58 AM
Wow, this coming from VOA, a well known state sponsored propaganda outlet that routinely espouses position on behalf of US government?

Everything VOA says by definition is censored, how ironic.

by: Anonymous
December 08, 2012 7:31 AM
The country isn't equal to the nation.I don't think the PRC will last a long time, but the Chinese will.

by: Guillermo Pussetto from: Montreal
December 07, 2012 10:16 PM
The last thing I would have expected from the Nobel organization is giving the prize to a minor writer who supports censorship and looks away from human rights. For me, this is the lowest point in the history of the Nobel prize organization.
In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
December 08, 2012 12:13 AM
Guillermo Pussetto from: Montreal, you are just another brain washed ignorant. Do you ever read? Did you read Mo Yan's novels?
How much do you know about China?
Let me ask you, in China's airport you dont need to take off your shoes, but in US you are forced to do it. So can I criticize US for violating human rights? yes you have thousands reasons to justify why they do it in US just like China has thousand reason to justify their decision.
again, keep your ugly politics with yourself, leave Nobel literature prize alone!
In Response

by: WEI from: china
December 07, 2012 11:49 PM
i tell you, there is also censorship in VAO!!!! I reply you but my comments was no appear
In Response

by: wei from: china
December 07, 2012 11:10 PM
i don't agree with you, actually in china any person can judge governments on the net. but you don't know the truth.

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
December 07, 2012 1:12 PM
nice said:"he received the prize because of his literary works, not for his politics".
can we keep the ugly politics away from prestigious Nobel price?
In Response

by: John from: USA
December 07, 2012 2:07 PM
The "prestigious" Nobel prize has always been about politics. Don't flatter that pathetic institution. They refused the Nobel in Literature to the Joyce and Borges on political grounds.

by: Wangchuk from: NYC
December 07, 2012 10:22 AM
Mo Yan makes a ridiculouse analogy of censorship to airport security. Free speech is not the same thing as airline safety. People do not have a right to travel on an airplane w/o being searched. People do have an inalienable right to free speech. The Govt cannot censor speech & when they do, it's usually to for political reasons to protect their power. Mo Yan's work was not censored by China, but if it had been like so many other Chinese writers, I doubt he'd be such a supporter of govt censorship.
In Response

by: henryyeung from: davis
December 07, 2012 1:32 PM
do you know the saying "the frog at the bottom of the well", first, you have to understand that government security is related to individual security. secondly, a person with high quality has a peaceful heart, do not like to judge who is right and wrong, to some degree, wrong and right is the standard which is thought by the smart people to cheat stupid people. Mo is a real people with high quality. you judge him because you are low and you do
not have the ability to understand him.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs