News / Asia

Chinese Nobel Writer Takes on Critics

Mo Yan speaks at the Royal Swedish Academy in Stockholm December 7, 2012.Mo Yan speaks at the Royal Swedish Academy in Stockholm December 7, 2012.
Mo Yan speaks at the Royal Swedish Academy in Stockholm December 7, 2012.
Mo Yan speaks at the Royal Swedish Academy in Stockholm December 7, 2012.
Chinese Nobel laureate Mo Yan lashed out at his critics during his Nobel lecture to the Royal Swedish Academy, just days before he receives the prestigious international award.  Criticisms of the author and what some argue is his support of China’s authoritarian government have been increasing in the run up to Monday’s Nobel award ceremony.

Since he arrived in Stockholm, Mo Yan’s march toward his Nobel award has been very much a balancing act, with some supporting the author’s long-held argument that he is independent, and others casting him as a pawn for the Chinese government.
There have been those who hoped he would say more about the plight of Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese citizen who launched a manifesto for democratic change called Charter 08. Liu received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 and continues to serve an 11-year sentence for his crime of speaking out.
China blacked out any coverage of Liu’s award, however, in China’s state-run media, Mo Yan has been treated like a national hero.
Herta Miller, the 2009 winner of the Nobel literature prize has called the jury’s choice of Mo Yan a “catastrophe.”
But there are those who argue that Mo Yan's work has been critical of Chinese government policies.

Mo's defense
In his speech, Mo Yan argued the criticisms are more about what others think about him and not who he really is.
Mo Yan says that the announcement of his Nobel Prize has led to controversy. He says that while he originally thought that he was the target of those criticisms, he realized in the end it was a person who had nothing to do with him.
The author says that if people really want to understand him, they should read what he has written.
He says that while words can be whisked off by the wind, the written word can never be obliterated. He says that he would like it if others could find the patience to read his books. Something, he adds, that he cannot force others to do, and does not believe it might necessarily change their view of him as well.
Most of Mo Yan’s address to the Swedish Academy focused on how he became an author and the sources of his inspiration for writing. He praised his illiterate mother several times during the address.
Mo Yan says that while his mother was a person who held people who can read in high regard, she also worried often that her son’s gift for talking could get him in trouble.
He says that his mother frequently cautioned him not to talk so much and urged him to be a more reserved, smooth and steady youngster. He says that while his stories brought his mother joy they also created a dilemma for her.

Official escort
Obviously, that dilemma is something Mo Yan continues to face. In addition to his family, several government officials are accompanying the author on his trip to receive the prize.
When asked about the official escort earlier last week, the Foreign Ministry did not confirm or deny that officials were with Mo Yan.
Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei says that Mo Yan loves his country and people, and that China congratulates him on winning the Nobel literary prize.
Despite concerns about what Mo Yan may or may not have said, his remarks, such as those during his press conference about how the award was given to him as an individual and was not an award for a country, generated a positive response.
Weibo chatter

One user of China’s Twitter-like Weibo microblogging service praised Mo Yan for having the courage to speak the truth. The posting said that if Mo Yan just flatters officials all the time, he could never be capable of writing any good works.
Another user praised Mo Yan’s statement that his winning of the prize was not a political victory, but a literature award.
However, Mo Yan’s remarks at the same press conference about censorship sparked a different response. Mo Yan says that while he opposes censorship, it is sometimes necessary - like airport security.
One user called the remarks unbearable, while another noted that as long as there is systematic censorship the truth will become lies and lies the truth.

You May Like

US, China Have Dueling Definitions of Cybersecurity

Analysts say attribution or or proving that a particular individual or government is responsible for a hack, is a daunting task More

Snowden: I'd Go to Prison to Return to US

Former NSA contractor says he has not received a formal plea-deal offer from US officials, who consider him to be a traitor More

Goodbye Pocahontas: Photos Reveal Today's Real Native Americans

Weary of stereotypes, photographer Matika Wilbur is determined to reshape the public's perception of her people More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs