Novelist and vice chairman of the state-run Chinese Writers’ Association, Mo Yan has met with praise and scorn in equal measure since he was award this year’s Nobel prize in literature. He and the Nobel Committee were sharply criticized for giving way to the Chinese Communist Party–until Mo Yan asserted his belief that fellow Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo should be freed from prison. This has not stopped the scrutiny, however. Weibo “VIP” @NoVforMe (@本人无V), who has over 16,900 followers, posted this comment on October 14:
NoVforMe: Call for Proof: This is Too Crazy–Pierre Haski, a reporter formerly based in Beijing for the French newspaper Libération, interviewed Mo Yan in 2004. During the interview, Mo Yan said that he is the child of a farmer. During the Great Leap Forward and Great Famine, he ate charcoal to keep from starving. He thanks the military and is still a Communist Party member–even though he’s lost his faith in the Party. When the reporter asked him when he lost his faith, he replied that from that year onward, he only retained his Party membership to avoid bringing on unnecessary trouble.
本人无V： 【求证：这个太猛了】法国解放报前驻京记者哈斯基04年走访了莫言 ，莫言在访谈中表示，他是一个农民的孩子，大跃进、大饥荒曾因饥饿难忍而吞食炭灰。他感谢军队，他依然是党员，尽管对党已经失去信心，记者询问何时失去信 心，莫言回答从那一年开始，他之所以继续保留党员证，是不想增添不必要的麻烦。
So far, the post has been commented on and reposted over 1550 times and remains untouched by both the author and the censors. Some have replied that @NoVforMe, and the public at large, should leave Mo Yan alone, while others redouble the call for verification of the interview. Still others are struck by the novelist’s courage and humanity, working within the Party system but not supporting it blindly. Indeed, many ordinary Chinese join the Party as a prerequisite to job promotion and for other non-political purposes. Party membership often has very little to do with an individual’s beliefs.
Some readers hang on Mo Yan’s mention of “that year,” a likely reference to 1989, the year of the Tiananmen protests. “That year” was blocked from Sina Weibo search results around the anniversary of the military crackdown this summer.
The following comments were selected by the CDT Chinese editors:
ZEDDD: He sure has the courage to speak.
charlesxue: I want proof.
Hanjianggouxue: I just heard the same on Radio France Internationale.
esrv: Even if this was proven true, what would you do about it?
MrKeke: Don’t try to bring out all his dirty laundry just because he won a Nobel Prize. Let him be. Let us enjoy his work.
FattyCat: Go ahead and demand proof for this. This comes from a Pierre Haski interview. http://t.cn/zllX3De [link to Rue 89 article, in French]
xiniuwangyue: Stop trying to take him down. What is there to prove?
hasange: You want proof for this thing? Isn’t this just someone speaking honestly?
chuguofuxing: Any normal person would say and do the same!
OceanBottomFish110: Even if he did say this, you can’t just bring it up to hurt the guy.
shluyanling: Which year is that year?
yogen: It’s definitely 1989.
IndependentScholar2010: That year, the shadow of a “tractor.”
kingleiou: That year…
Wuhezizon: I feel the same way. @Dacangbu: That year…
LoneWalker: It started from that year. That year was probably the most hopeless year of them all.
Limingqianye: China’s youngest, most courageous generation was trampled under the wheels of authoritarianism–history written in blood.
OldCowNight: With regards to the tragedy of ’89, I believe, anyone with a bit of a conscience would be like this. It’s nothing to boast about. That day, one of my teachers jotted down these four lines. They shake me to my core: “A night of thunderous turmoil. All were singing and dancing their praises. No one will speak of this again. Even the birds on the eaves make no sound.”
FieldHeart: Now I know why they gave him a Nobel Prize…
IamWangFeiFeizhuliu: I never thought Old Mo and I would have the same awareness. But my feelings about this are particularly strong this year.
KneelLong: Chinese-style survival philosophy…
baizhenxia: Authoritarian monarchs love smart elites who don’t cause any trouble!
Xishanqingyu: Does this mean he has a conscience, or that he doesn’t have a conscience?
PoisonTongue: Oh, so he’s talking about “that year”! Haha! That sensitive year!
FatLittleSoldier2012: Haha! Let’s all work hard to force Nobel Prize winners get out or go in.
junjunq: That day during the press conference, whether it was intentional or not, Mo Yan conveyed a sense of his dissatisfaction with and disapproval of the Chinese Communist Party.
WuShen: No matter if this news is real or not, anyone who lived through that time period would have lost their faith in everything. And that’s for certain.
Jingxiguqiao: Mo Yan is probably very conflicted inside. To live within the system, he must compromise his writing.
TianmahangkongV88: How many other Party members raise their right hands as they take the oath and don’t think it counts?
JiafeimaoBrother: Now this guy is what I call smart!
OceanStone1981: Mo Yan wins a prize, and now everything is being dug up. Sigh. It’s tough to become famous in China–even dangerous.
DanGirl61: I believe Mo Yan would say something like this. You can feel the weight of the Chinese people by reading his work.
USAPrincePerv: Telling it like it is…
InteriorDesigner: Disaster comes from the mouth, Mo Yan!
Feichi: If it’s true, it would make people really admire him. On the one hand, he has thoughts like these. On the other, he was able to become the vice chairman of the China Writers’ Association.
FeisiLi: Now I understand that Mo Yan is sick at heart. His name is attributed to all kinds of ideologies and philosophies. That has to be overwhelming. Who knows if one day while he’s asleep he’ll get shot. Show a little caring. Give him some love, and stop tormenting him.
GCDCoronationDay: Not wanting to create unnecessary trouble–there are many people who think the same way.
TianmaxingkongV88: So the oath he took under the Party flag doesn’t count?
Huajiuduoduo: You have to swear an oath to enter the Party. But if you wish to leave, it’s not that easy. Especially when your children enter school and look for work, you’re finished.
EyeOfChild: If this is true, he’s nothing but an opportunist!
NoHKinHeart: I don’t care about this. The important thing is that he won an award.
minchaow: It’s not everyday that a Chinese person wins a Nobel Prize. Whatever you do, don’t stop him from going to accept it.
TianjinLiuTong: It makes sense, not wanting to add unnecessary trouble.
an4001_5lb: When will we be able to remove our masks and speak the truth?
Translation by Little Bluegill.
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