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June 27, 2017

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Nobel laureate novelist avoids persecution with humor: culture minister

TAIPEI -- Chinese Nobel Prize-winning author Mo Yan (莫言) is a "man of humor" who has used his wit to save himself from possible persecution in China's tightly controlled society, Taiwan's Culture Minister Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) said yesterday.

Lung, an essayist-turned-minister, said on the sidelines of a legislative hearing that she was excited to hear that Mo won this year's Nobel Prize for Literature because he has long been a close friend of hers.

"As we both write in Chinese, his emergence as a Nobel laureate certainly brings me greater delight than authors using other languages," Lung said.

Responding to questions that Mo is seen by some dissident writers as being too timid to confront the communist Chinese government, which strictly censors artists and authors, Lung said there are diverse ways for people to express their views on a political system.

While some persons may like to shout on the street or even set themselves on fire in Tiananmen Square in protest, people should not be limited to one uniform method of protest to criticize or express their indignation at the dark side of society, Lung said.

"Mo himself once wrote that people should tolerate those who hide in their rooms and use literature to voice their opinions," she said.

"Living in a rigorously regulated environment, some people opt to protest loudly while others may choose to remain silent, and Mo is a person who uses his sense of humor to deal with that society," Lung added.

She also expressed the hope that Mo's winning of the Nobel Prize will inspire mainland Chinese authorities to be tolerant of diverse political attitudes.

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