Oct 12, 2012 / 6:14 am
China's newly named Nobel laureate for literature expressed hope Friday that an imprisoned Chinese winner of the Nobel Peace Prize will be freed, putting a dent in the ruling Communist Party's attempts to burnish its credentials with the latest prize.
Mo Yan, the first Chinese writer to win the literature Nobel, made the comments about dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was awarded the Peace Prize while serving a prison sentence for opposing single-party rule, in response to a question at a news conference.
"I now hope that he can regain his freedom very soon," Mo Yan said. "If (Liu) can be freed in good health sooner, then he can study his politics and his social system."
He didn't elaborate, but Mo, who is a Communist Party member, appeared to be arguing that releasing Liu might allow the dissident to be convinced to embrace the party line.
His statement on Liu in his hometown of Gaomi in Shandong province came amid criticism by human rights activists that Mo compromises his artistic and intellectual independence by being a party member and vice-president of the official writers association.
The call for Liu's release came just after the party's propaganda chief, Li Changchun, issued congratulations to Mo, saying the award "reflects the prosperity and progress of Chinese literature, as well as the increasing influence of China."
News of Mo's historic win was plastered across newspaper front pages Friday.
The nationalist tabloid Global Times praised Mo's award as a sign of Western acceptance of mainstream Chinese culture. As one of China's most popular writers, Mo represents a rising China in both the economic and cultural spheres, the paper said in an editorial.
"The Chinese mainstream cannot be refused by the West for long," it said.
The response was a stark contrast to two years ago when the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Liu, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for co-authoring a bold call for ending single-party rule and enacting democratic reforms titled Charter 08.
The Chinese government rejected that honour, calling it a desecration of the Nobel tradition, and chilled relations with Norway, where the prize is awarded but whose government has no say in whom it goes to. China's rulers forbid opposition parties and maintain strict control over all media.
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