Mainland liberal speaks up for tolerance

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 May, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 May, 1996, 12:00am

Almost seven years after being forced to step down as culture minister, Wang Meng still considers himself as a 'tolerant' writer.

'Perhaps it can be attributed to what I have gone through all these years,' he said at a seminar organised by the University of Science and Technology in Hong Kong yesterday. 'I can tolerate and easily empathise with many types of writings, whether they are penned by a patriot or a cynic.' In an oblique criticism of mainland 'leftists', the 62-year-old novelist said there was still 'not enough space' for those artists and writers who strayed from traditional and Maoist thoughts.

He said, for example, that mainland critics should not have been so harsh on young 'punk' writers, such as Wang Shuo and Jia Pingao .

'It's a matter of freedom of expression. I personally don't like all their books but still appreciate their style of writing. Reading their books is like reading their thoughts. They are trying to reflect what they feel towards modern lives. That's precious enough.' Wang was held partly responsible for encouraging 'bourgeois liberalisation' in 1987 and was forced to resign as culture minister in 1989, after the June 4 massacre.

Now Wang has emerged again and sits on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Wang said he would not give up writing whatever the political atmosphere. 'Writing is the best way to express my inner feelings towards life. I will keep on doing that.'