When asked by a Xinhua journalist what he would do with his prize money of RMB7.5 mil, Nobel winner Mo Yan replied:
I’m getting ready to buy a house in Beijing, a big house. But then I’ve been warned I won’t be able to get anything that big. A house is more than RMB50,000 per square meter. RMB 7.5 mil is 120-some square meters.
Netizens were stunned by the “magical realism” of such a huge sum of money meaning so little in the Beijing real estate market. Beijing real estate tycoon Pan Shiyi (@潘石屹) stoked the fires when he asked bluntly, “Does @MoYan have a Beijing hukou [household registration]? (@莫言 有北京户口吗？)” Without the proper hukou or proof that he has been paying city social security taxes for at least five years, Mo Yan has no legal route to home ownership in the capital. Such property-purchasing limitations (限购令), which began in Beijing in 2010, are in use nationwide.
Meanwhile, an investigation of Guangzhou City Management Commissar Cai Bin, who owns 21 homes, started last week. Property-purchasing limitations in Guangzhou, Beijing and many other cities restrict residents to one property per household. Compared to officials like Cai Bin, Mo Yan is “one of us,” just trying to make a living with his Nobel money.
Below are a selection of comments gathered by CDT Chinese:
DuguHoe: Has he been paying his social security taxes for five years?
MuseSinner: Over 50,000 for one square meter. That truly is magical and realistic.
Hikerjmc: The Chinese people are all struggling to win a Nobel.
gbsoup: After you buy your house, you’ll still have to renovate it… And did you take the property management and parking fees into account?
StarPicker010: Mo Yan is indeed one of us common people.
wujiandeng: Heh heh, the prize money seems big, but in fact is just worth an apartment.
BenYuan: It’s not the fault of the Nobel literature prize. It’s the fault of the real estate prices in China.
tjwjl: In China, a small-time official is worth more than a world-class writer.
Translation by Mengyu Dong.
“Netizen Voices” is an original CDT series. If you would like to reuse this content, please follow the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 agreement.