Mo Yan

Chinese dissidents dismiss Nobel author as stooge of state

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 5:49am

Mainland dissidents assailed Mo Yan's Nobel literature prize as a disgraceful vindication of the Communist Party's control of creative expression yesterday, accusing the author of being a stooge of officialdom.

While the award brought an outpouring of national pride, outspoken opponents of the Beijing government branded it a shameful validation of state controls on publishing.

Dissident artist Ai Weiwei dismissed Mo Yan as a government stooge and ridiculed the official response by Beijing, which lashed out at earlier Nobel peace prizes for Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and dissident writer Liu Xiaobo .

"[Mo Yan] will always stand on the side of power and he will not have one bit of individualism," Ai said, adding "so people don't know if they should laugh or cry over this Nobel prize."

Ai called Mo Yan - who is reportedly a Communist Party member - a "very ordinary" author and accused Chinese authorities of double standards, saying the names of other China-linked prizewinners "will never be seen inside China".

Prominent dissident Wei Jingsheng, considered by many the father of China's modern democracy movement, criticised the prize as an effort to appease Beijing after the angry reaction to Liu's 2010 peace award.

Wei praised Mo Yan, 57, as a writer but questioned his independence, noting that he had copied by hand a speech by late Communist founder Mao Zedong - delivered at his rebel base at Yanan during China's civil war - for a commemorative book this year. In the speech, Mao says art and culture should support the Communist Party.

"Just look at the elated hype on the Nobel prize by the Chinese government before and after the announcement.

"We could tell that this prize was awarded for the purpose of pleasing the communist regime and is thus not noteworthy," Wei said.

In sharp contrast to its past Nobel vitriol, China's government mouthpieces went into overdrive to praise Mo Yan, the first Chinese national to win the literature prize.

"Chinese authors have waited too long for this day, the Chinese people have waited too long. We congratulate Mo Yan!" said the official People's Daily.

Xinhua said the government deserved credit for its policy of gradually opening up the economy and society since Mao's era.

"Without China's opening up and reform policy, his [Mo Yan's] ilk would not have flourished," it said.

Mo Yan, who received the news of the award in Shandong province where he lives, has said he was "stunned" and "delighted" by the award.

But Yu Jie , an exiled dissident writer, was quoted by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle as calling it "the biggest scandal in the history of the Nobel prize for literature".

"That an author who copied Mao Zedong's Yanan text and sang the praises of Mao Zedong can earn the prize - the number of people Mao Zedong slaughtered surpasses even that of Stalin and Hitler," he reportedly said.