Chinese author Mo Yan, a critic of the forced-abortion one-child policy in China, won the Nobel Prize for Literature today. Mo Yan, who said he was “overjoyed and scared” at winning the prize, is an outspoken opponent of the policy that results in massive human rights abuses.
Mo’s Nobel biography notes that his most recent work, Wa, highlights the harsh reality of the coercive family planning in China. It tells the story of a rural gynecologist who delivers babies and also performs abortions in her role as an enforcer of the One-Child Policy.
In a 2010 interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV, Mo acknowledged that his book could be controversial but said the subject was deeply personal for him. He had compelled his wife to abort the couple’s second child.
“When I was serving in the army, I was promoted to the rank of officer,” said Mo Yan. “There was another officer in the army who lost his rank…because he had a second child. I was afraid I would receive the same punishment, so I chose not to have another child. If it were not for my own selfish ambition, I would have let my wife have a second or even a third baby. I used a very high-sounding rationale to convince her we needed to abort the baby: we had to follow the Party’s policy and nation’s policy. This has become an eternal scar in the deepest part of my heart. …It became a big shadow in my heart.”
Despite Mo’s criticism of the One-Child Policy, Chinese state media embraced his Nobel Prize and interrupted a planned broadcast to announce the news, according to the human rights watchdog group All Girls Allowed.
Chai Ling, of All Girls Allowed, responded to the news.
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“I hope that Mo Yan’s thoughtful criticism of the One-Child Policy will help others see its role in causing gendercide. It is the largest challenge facing girls in China. Every day the policy continues, another 3,000 girls are lost to sex-selective abortion, infanticide or abandonment. Mo Yan said the One-Child Policy left a shadow in his heart; it should leave a shadow on everyone’s heart on this International Day of the Girl Child,” she told LifeNews.
Ling found hope in this year’s progress, saying, “All of this year’s events—the escape of Chen Guangcheng, the global outcry against Feng Jianmei’s forced abortion this summer, the upcoming leadership transition in China—lead me to believe that Jesus is bringing and end to the One-Child Policy soon. He hears the cries of the afflicted and sets the oppressed free.”
As Mo Yan, whose only child is a daughter, told Phoenix TV: “No matter whether a child is a girl or boy, it is a life. Lives are all equal.”