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Freedom of speech

December 13, 2012

[WHEN] the 2012 Nobel Literature Prize winner, Mo Yan of China, attended the Nobel Prize awards ceremony in Stockholm … Western media claimed that freedom of expression was a topic that Mo could not avoid. Westerners have already formed a set way of thinking about China’s freedom of expression, but they still expect Mo to vent his opinion so as to embarrass the Chinese government, or himself. The right to freedom of expression is deemed to be above all human rights in the West.... Western society has made enough room for it. This freedom and social structure have been adapting to each other for a long time. Among Western achievements, freedom of expression lies in the most superficial of places, but many Westerners believe it is the foundation of Western development.

…China’s freedom of expression has not developed as it has done in the West…. China’s attitude towards freedom of expression is the same as that toward reforms. This freedom in China has been making progress in recent years, but without any revolutionary breakthroughs.

…In China, no one would oppose the right to freedom of speech. The development of technology has helped the process through which this freedom is expanded. The comparison between China and the West can let us learn from the West’s advantages and reflect on our own problems. However, asking a Chinese Nobel Prize winner, the focus of attention for millions of his compatriots, if his country has freedom of expression does nothing but seek to irritate. Chinese people are fully aware that the country’s development is far behind that of Western countries. ...China has developed at its fastest in the past 30 years, at a rate that has amazed the whole world. Is there a development path, apart from the Western one, that specifically fits China? …Freedom of expression will surely develop in China. But confronting China by asking why China doesn’t have the same freedom of expression as the West is the most rotten way of going about it.—(Dec 11)