China leader congratulates Mo Yan on Nobel: media
BEIJING - Agence France-Presse
Chinese writer Mo Yan arrives for a news conference in his hometown of Gaomi, Shandong province October 12, 2012. Mo won the 2012 Nobel prize for literature on Thursday for works which combine "hallucinatory realism" with folk tales, history and contemporary life in China. REUTERS/Jason LeeThe Chinese Communist Party's top propaganda official congratulated author Mo Yan on Friday for winning the Nobel literature prize, calling it a reflection of China's growing power, state media said.
It marked the highest-level official response since Mo Yan's award on Thursday triggered an outpouring of pride in state-run media, but condemnation from critics who said it validated state controls on freedom of expression.
"Mo Yan's winning of the Nobel prize for literature reflects the flourishing improvements of Chinese literature and China's comprehensive national strength and international influence," Li Changchun said in a letter, according to Xinhua news agency.
Li, a member of the powerful nine-man Communist Party committee that runs China, is the party's top official in charge of propaganda. The letter was sent to the China Writers' Association, of which Mo Yan is vice-chair.
The pride expressed in state media contrasted with the fury that greeted prior awards linked to the country.
Beijing had lashed out earlier at Nobel peace prizes for Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and dissident writer Liu Xiaobo.
Dissident artist Ai Weiwei ripped into Mo Yan as a government stooge and ridiculed the official response by Beijing.
"(Mo Yan) will always stand on the side of power and he will not have one bit of individualism," Ai told AFP, adding that "people don't know if they should laugh or cry over this Nobel prize." Some of Mo Yan's work has cast an unflattering eye on official policy, such as his 2009 novel "Frog", which looks at China's "one child" limit and the local officials who implement it with forced abortions and sterilisations.
Literary critics have said Mo Yan has dodged censure by deftly avoiding overt criticism of authorities.
Mo Yan, a pen name for the author, who was born Guan Moye, is best-known abroad for his 1987 novella "Red Sorghum", set amid the brutal violence that plagued the eastern China countryside, where he grew up, during the 1920s and 30s.
It was later made into an acclaimed film by leading Chinese director Zhang Yimou.