The Nobel Prize, in the hearts of many Chinese, is a permanent scar, just like the World Cup – they want it so badly but can never get it. This year, popular Chinese writer Mo Yan has been reported to be in top places for the literature prize, with odds on him at 8/1. It seems like a dream finally becoming true, but many Chinese netizens are saying: “He doesn’t deserve it.”
Many Chinese view the Nobel Prize as a recognition of China’s rising power and status on the international stage, but to their dismay, the Nobel Prize brought more “shame” than “glory” to the country. Nobel Prizes in sciences aren’t really relevant for China for now. Nobel Peace Prize is probably the only relevant so far, but it’s the so-called “anti-China” Nobel Prize. Dalai Lama, who is labeled as the evil separatist, has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Liu Xiaobo, who has been sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment for “inciting subversion of state power,” received his 2010 Nobel Peace Prize while still in China’s prison. These are not really cases to be proud of for the Chinese people. And Gao Xingjian, the only Chinese name in connection with a Nobel Prize for Literature, was already a French citizen when he got the prize in 2000. Mo Yan is probably the only hope for China to get a Nobel Prize in the next few years. Shouldn’t Chinese netizens be happy? Well…many are not.
Mo Yan is the CCP’s baby
His works aside, many netizens don’t think Mo Yan is a Nobel Prize-worthy person. A Weibo post by 滕_彪 summarized Mo Yan’s “sins”: “He was one of the writers who copied Mao’s Yan’an Talks on Literature and Art by hand [The talk was given by Mao in 1942 which laid out the approval style of art and literature in China, one that has no darkness and showed only the bright side of society.] He once said that there were no restrictions or censorship on novelists in China. At Frankfurt Book Fair, he refused to sit in the same seminar with [dissident Chinese authors] Dai Qing and Bei Ling. When he was asked about opinions on Liu Xiaobo’s 11-year sentence, he said he didn’t know much about it and had nothing to say. He has never said a single word against ‘a China heart’…”
For many netizens, this Mo Yan with “a China heart” [a heart bent its knee to the CCP’s suppression] is a writer without any heart. Netizen 宝庆佬 commented: “The moment when Mo Yan started to copy Mao’s Yan’an Talks by hand, the writer in him died.”
A writer who deserves a Nobel Prize, like netizen 假装在纽约 commented, “should be one without boarders – he shouldn’t protest against the presence of dissident writers together with government officials and he shouldn’t copy a dictator’s talks by hand, for a true great writer should not only be the pioneer of his time, but should also hold his ground.”
Another reason why many Chinese netizens think Mo Yan’s chance of winning is slim is that they see Haruki Murakami, popular Japanese novelist who is also in top places for this year’s prize, as a much better writer. Like netizen Sheldon殷明 commented: “Honestly, Mo Yan is a good writer, probably one of China’s top 10 best writers still alive. But Haruki Murakami is way better.” 苦蚕 said: “The judges must be blind if they pick Mo Yan out of Mo Yan and Haruki Murakami.”
Haruki Murakami aside, many netizens don’t even see Mo Yan as China’s best. Like netizen 嘲风大圣 commented: “If any Chinese writer deserves a Nobel Prize for Literature, it won’t be Mo Yan. Writers like Yu Hua, Jia Pingwa and Wang Shuo are all way better than him.” Some others simply never read any works from Mo Yan. Code_111 asked; “Who is Mo Yan?” And of course, there are also netizens who show support for him. For them, those who pointed their fingers at Mo Yan’s political stance are nothing but sour grapes.
All this plus the whole “toadying-up to the CCP” controversy of popular TV show the Voice of China leave one wonder when and whether will anything in China be talked about without the mentioning of politics? What has made “anti-government” discourse so popular and when and whether will the situation change?