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Mo Yan's Nobel acceptance speech draws ire from critics (+video)

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The controversy over Chinese author and Nobel Prize recipient Mo Yan only appears to grow.

After being called a “patsy of the regime” by Salman Rushdie for declining to sign a petition calling for the release of fellow Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and reiterating his view that some censorship is necessary, Mo Yan accepted the Nobel Prize for Literature in a Stockholm ceremony Monday evening that left some in the literary community reeling.

“I want to take this opportunity to express my admiration for the members of the Swedish Academy, who stick firm to their own convictions,” Mo Yan said on accepting his prize. “I am confident that you will not let yourselves be affected by anything other than literature.”

Late last week, Rushdie called Mo Yan a “patsy” and expressed frustration that he would not support fellow writers and activists in calling for the release of 2010 Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, a democracy activist who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for co-authoring a manifesto calling for the end of China’s single-party rule and the initiation of democratic reforms.

“This is really too bad,” Rushdie wrote on Facebook, according to Salon. “He defends censorship and won’t sign the petition asking for the freedom of his fellow Noblist Liu Xiaobo. Hard to avoid the conclusion that Mo Yan is the Chinese equivalent of the Soviet Russian apparatchik writer Mikhail Sholokhov: a patsy of the regime.” 

More than 130 other Nobel laureates have signed the petition. When asked why he hadn’t signed it, Mo Yan said, “I have always been independent. I like it that way. When someone forces me to do something I don’t do it.”

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