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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    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.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora