Mo Yan, who is due to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature on Monday, provoked anger with his defence of censorship. He claimed censorship is as necessary as airport security.
Mo Yan, whose real name is Guan Moye, is the first Chinese author to win the Nobel Literature Prize. The Swedish Academy compared him to William Faulkner and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, describing his work as "hallucinatory realism [which] merges folk tales, history and the contemporary".
Mo Yan, the laureate's pen name, means "don't speak". According to Time World, he chose the name as a reminder to himself not to say things that would get him into trouble.
As the Wall Street Journal notes, Mo Yan further incensed his critics when he repeatedly refused to express support for his fellow countryman, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who is currently serving an eleven year prison sentence for advocating democratic reform and observance of human rights and the rule of law in China.
The Week points out that Mo Yan was already under fire from fellow writers due to his refusal to sign a petition signed by other Nobel Prize winners calling for the release of Lui Xiaobo. Salman Rushdie contemptuously described Mo Yan as a "patsy" for the Chinese government.
According to MySinchew, Chinese artist Ai Weiwei was equally contemptuous. He condemned Mo Yan's Stockholm lecture in a tweet. He wrote:
Mo Yan's talk about story telling is about covering things up and hiding, it was powerless, disgraceful, a betrayal and a sellout.
As the South China Morning Post reports, the poet, Ye Du, was even more scathing. He said:
He [Mo Yan] is like a prostitute insisting her services are clean.