Nobel Laureate Mo Yan Accused of ‘Smearing’ CCP Predecessors In Lawsuit

Mo Yan’s desire for freedom of writing and historical truth is destined to be not tolerated by the CCP-controlled social environment .News AnalysisChinese writer Mo Yan, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was recently sued by an ultra-Maoist for his writings allegedly “smearing” former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Mao Zedong and the party’s armies.On Feb. 27, a Weibo VIP user dubbed “Truth-teller Mao Starfire,” a self-proclaimed extreme Maoist, posted an “indictment” against Mo Yan, saying that he had submitted materials to the court in Beijing, but the court did not accept them. He then went to the public prosecutor’s office and was admitted.In the indictment, he requested that Mo Yan be judged to “compensate and apologize to the heroes and martyrs of the Eighth Route Army and the Liberation Army, and to apologize to all Chinese people,” to “silence Mo Yan and ban his books,” and even asked for 1.5 billion yuan ($210 million) in compensation for “reputational damages,” among other things.Mo Yan is the pen name of Guan Moye, who served as vice-chairman of the Chinese Writers Association and was also a retired Major of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).In August 2011, Mo Yan’s novel “Frogs” won China’s eighth Mao Dun Literature Prize. On Oct. 11, 2012, Mo Yan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work “with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary,” making him the first Chinese citizen to win the prize.Related StoriesAlthough the central theme of Mo Yan’s early works intends to glorify the CCP rule, some also reflected the oppressed living conditions of the grassroots and did not avoid several historical events that Beijing regarded as sensitive. In recent years, Mo Yan’s free speech in public has dissatisfied the authorities, and he was marginalized in the national literary community.Mo Yan, meaning “don’t speak” in Chinese—carries, as he said, the warning of his parents, who raised him during the Cultural Revolution, a political movement launched by Mao Zedong from 1966 to 1976, later referred to as the “Ten Years of Havoc.”Zhuge Mingyang, an independent writer and contributor to The Epoch Times, sees the lawsuit against Mo Yan as “a farce.”The move seems to pander to the current CCP leaders’ inclination to “go back to the Mao era,” and its pattern of accusations, according to Mr. Zhuge, showcases a kind of Cultural Revolution-like exaggerated and hate-mongering criticism.Furthermore, a recent similar criticism by a Communist diplomat adds another layer of official politics.On March 4, Li Yang, the former deputy director general of the Arms Control Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former consul general in Rio de Janeiro, criticized Mo Yan on Weibo for “exposing his reactionary politics and lack of knowledge” by “degrading the ‘founding fathers’ and the ‘red regime’ as worthless.”  He quoted part of Mo Yan’s inscription for the Liao-Shen Battle Memorial Museum, which reads, “Gunfire braze the sky, just for a regime shift; corpses strew the land, all are peasants’ children.”Ultra-Maoist’s AccusationAs early as last December, the Weibo user claimed he intended to “prosecute” Mo Yan by collecting evidence.In a Feb. 2 post, the Maoists extracted incomplete quotations from Mo Yan’s novels, accusing Mo Yan of  “vilifying and insulting Chinese Communists” and a dozen other charges.The account listed in detail in the indictment, for instance, Mo Yan’s novel “Red Sorghum,” which is said to have denigrated and smeared the Eighth Route Army—one of the main predecessors of the PLA army—as Mo Yan believes it didn’t actively resist Japanese aggression during the Second China-Japan War.Another Mo Yan work, “The day when Chairman Mao died,” seriously insulted the former party leader Mao Zedong, according to the “Mao Starfire” user.The user also denounced Mo Yan’s description of China as “the darkest of mankind” and that Chinese people live in “pigsties” in his Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech.Nobel Prize in Literature laureate, author Mo Yan of China (L) acknowledges applause after he received his Nobel Prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (2nd R) as Queen Silvia of Sweden (3rd R) and Princess Madeleine of Sweden (R) look on, during the Nobel Prize Ceremony at Concert Hall in Stockholm on Dec. 10, 2012. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)The lawsuit against the renowned author has sparked a heated debate on Chinese social media platforms, with those in favor of Mo Yan and those against him bickering.Hu Xijin, the former editor-in-chief of the official media Global Times, actively presents himself as a staunch CCP propagandist. He expressed his stance against the lawsuit of the extreme “populist,” saying it deliberately incriminates the author in the name of “patriotism.”In response, on Feb. 29, the “Mao Starfire” announced that he was going to sue Hu Xijin, refuting how Hu can “call a law-abiding, law-abiding person as a ‘populist?’”“I

Nobel Laureate Mo Yan Accused of ‘Smearing’ CCP Predecessors In Lawsuit

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Mo Yan’s desire for freedom of writing and historical truth is destined to be not tolerated by the CCP-controlled social environment .

News Analysis

Chinese writer Mo Yan, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, was recently sued by an ultra-Maoist for his writings allegedly “smearing” former Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Mao Zedong and the party’s armies.

On Feb. 27, a Weibo VIP user dubbed “Truth-teller Mao Starfire,” a self-proclaimed extreme Maoist, posted an “indictment” against Mo Yan, saying that he had submitted materials to the court in Beijing, but the court did not accept them. He then went to the public prosecutor’s office and was admitted.

In the indictment, he requested that Mo Yan be judged to “compensate and apologize to the heroes and martyrs of the Eighth Route Army and the Liberation Army, and to apologize to all Chinese people,” to “silence Mo Yan and ban his books,” and even asked for 1.5 billion yuan ($210 million) in compensation for “reputational damages,” among other things.

Mo Yan is the pen name of Guan Moye, who served as vice-chairman of the Chinese Writers Association and was also a retired Major of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

In August 2011, Mo Yan’s novel “Frogs” won China’s eighth Mao Dun Literature Prize. On Oct. 11, 2012, Mo Yan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work “with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary,” making him the first Chinese citizen to win the prize.

Although the central theme of Mo Yan’s early works intends to glorify the CCP rule, some also reflected the oppressed living conditions of the grassroots and did not avoid several historical events that Beijing regarded as sensitive. In recent years, Mo Yan’s free speech in public has dissatisfied the authorities, and he was marginalized in the national literary community.

Mo Yan, meaning “don’t speak” in Chinese—carries, as he said, the warning of his parents, who raised him during the Cultural Revolution, a political movement launched by Mao Zedong from 1966 to 1976, later referred to as the “Ten Years of Havoc.”

Zhuge Mingyang, an independent writer and contributor to The Epoch Times, sees the lawsuit against Mo Yan as “a farce.”

The move seems to pander to the current CCP leaders’ inclination to “go back to the Mao era,” and its pattern of accusations, according to Mr. Zhuge, showcases a kind of Cultural Revolution-like exaggerated and hate-mongering criticism.

Furthermore, a recent similar criticism by a Communist diplomat adds another layer of official politics.

On March 4, Li Yang, the former deputy director general of the Arms Control Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and former consul general in Rio de Janeiro, criticized Mo Yan on Weibo for “exposing his reactionary politics and lack of knowledge” by “degrading the ‘founding fathers’ and the ‘red regime’ as worthless.”  He quoted part of Mo Yan’s inscription for the Liao-Shen Battle Memorial Museum, which reads, “Gunfire braze the sky, just for a regime shift; corpses strew the land, all are peasants’ children.”
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Ultra-Maoist’s Accusation

As early as last December, the Weibo user claimed he intended to “prosecute” Mo Yan by collecting evidence.

In a Feb. 2 post, the Maoists extracted incomplete quotations from Mo Yan’s novels, accusing Mo Yan of  “vilifying and insulting Chinese Communists” and a dozen other charges.

The account listed in detail in the indictment, for instance, Mo Yan’s novel “Red Sorghum,” which is said to have denigrated and smeared the Eighth Route Army—one of the main predecessors of the PLA army—as Mo Yan believes it didn’t actively resist Japanese aggression during the Second China-Japan War.

Another Mo Yan work, “The day when Chairman Mao died,” seriously insulted the former party leader Mao Zedong, according to the “Mao Starfire” user.

The user also denounced Mo Yan’s description of China as “the darkest of mankind” and that Chinese people live in “pigsties” in his Nobel Prize for Literature acceptance speech.

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Nobel Prize in Literature laureate, author Mo Yan of China (L) acknowledges applause after he received his Nobel Prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (2nd R) as Queen Silvia of Sweden (3rd R) and Princess Madeleine of Sweden (R) look on, during the Nobel Prize Ceremony at Concert Hall in Stockholm on Dec. 10, 2012. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Nobel Prize in Literature laureate, author Mo Yan of China (L) acknowledges applause after he received his Nobel Prize from King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden (2nd R) as Queen Silvia of Sweden (3rd R) and Princess Madeleine of Sweden (R) look on, during the Nobel Prize Ceremony at Concert Hall in Stockholm on Dec. 10, 2012. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

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The lawsuit against the renowned author has sparked a heated debate on Chinese social media platforms, with those in favor of Mo Yan and those against him bickering.

Hu Xijin, the former editor-in-chief of the official media Global Times, actively presents himself as a staunch CCP propagandist. He expressed his stance against the lawsuit of the extreme “populist,” saying it deliberately incriminates the author in the name of “patriotism.”

In response, on Feb. 29, the “Mao Starfire” announced that he was going to sue Hu Xijin, refuting how Hu can “call a law-abiding, law-abiding person as a ‘populist?’”

“If Hu Xijin is targeted to be the next to be indicted, it will be a great irony to [Hu] himself and the CCP regime,” said Mr. Zhuge, citing the chaotic situation of the two Maoist defenders tearing into each other.

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Mo Yan’s Works and Speeches

Some of Mo Yan’s works and public remarks over recent years paved the way for a shift in his reflections on the history of the Chinese Communist Ruling Party and the actual development of Chinese society governed by the party.

A much-visible example is “The Garlic Ballads,” a novel based on a real story from the 1980s. It describes the vulnerability and hardship of the ordinary populace and criticizes the Chinese Communist government’s disregard for human beings and trampling on the dignity of life.

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Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou speaks during a ceremony in Taipei on Aug. 5, 2012.(Mandy Cheng/AFP/GettyImages)
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou speaks during a ceremony in Taipei on Aug. 5, 2012.(Mandy Cheng/AFP/GettyImages)

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Another full-length novel, “Big Breasts & Wide Hips,” won the Dajia Honghe Literature Prize in 1997. While praising the CCP regime, it also depicted the main achievements of the Kuomintang—a major political party that retreated in Taiwan when the CCP seized power in mainland China in 1949—in repelling invasions on the front lines during the Chinese War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression in the period of 1931-1945.

The book does not even avoid sensitive topics such as the “Anti-Rightist Movement against intellectuals” and the “Cultural Revolution” and the historical fact of the starvation that killed an astronomical number of Chinese people.

On Dec. 10, 2012, Mo Yan denied that writers were imprisoned in China during the pre-Nobel Prize ceremony. He claimed that the censorship of the Chinese Communist Party’s speech is everywhere, like going through the security checkpoint at the airport, and that other countries also have censorship. His remarks were criticized by the international public.

However, his viewpoint changed after Mo Yan visited Taiwan in September 2013. He told the local media that he had previously thought that the people of Taiwan were living in “deep water,” but this time, he felt that Taiwanese society was full of kindness and friendship, especially the spirit of mutual love among strangers, which is very “touching.”

On a Taiwanese television program, Mo Yan also expressed skepticism about the 1979 war between mainland China and Vietnam, which the CCP named the war “Self-defensive counterattack against Vietnam,” while the Vietnamese government called it the “War against Chinese expansionism.”

Vietnam’s military occupation of Cambodia in 1978 ended the rule of the Khmer Rouge, a communist dictatorship backed by the CCP. In retaliation, CCP launched an offensive raid and kicked off the Sino-Vietnamese War.

Mo Yan has been ruled out of the “China’s Centennial Writers” list, according to an article from the Chinese Writers Association, cited by mouthpiece Guangming Daily on June 22, 2021.

Meanwhile, a video of Mo Yan’s speech went viral on social media. In it, he said, “Telling the truth is undoubtedly a valuable quality of a writer. If a writer doesn’t dare to tell the truth, then he or she will have to tell lies, which is meaningless to society and meaningless to the people.”

“I think that literature and art are never tools for singing praises, but should expose the darkness, reveal the darkness of the society, reveal the injustice of the society, and also reveal the dark side of the human heart. It also includes revealing the deep dark side of the human soul.”

Outside analysis suggests that Mo Yan’s desire for freedom of thought and expression doomed him to be kicked out of the CCP-controlled mainland literary scene and that the recent ultra-Maoist indictment of him foreshadows the additional criticism and retaliation he may face.

 Fang Xiao contributed to this article.

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