China / Society

Nobel Prize gets laureate offers of unwanted gifts

By Xu Junqian (China Daily) Updated: 2012-10-17 01:30

Fans of the novelist Mo Yan are criticizing Chinese businessmen whom they accuse of trying to cash in on the novelist's receipt of the Nobel Prize in literature.

As could be expected following the announcement that Mo had become the first Chinese citizen to win the prestigious award, well-wishers have sent him many messages of support.

But there have also been two offers of rather extravagant gifts. Chen Guangbiao, a businessman involved in many fields and a philanthropist, has promised to give Mo a villa. And Pei Laifeng, owner of Hancome, a company that makes LED-related products in Zhejiang province, has dangled a Mercedes-Benz in front of him.

The writer, whose real name is Guan Moye, has politely declined the offers, according to his family. His fans have also not welcomed them.

"Mo is a great writer, one who deserved to win the Nobel Prize in literature," said Zheng Si, a reader of his books. "It's not a good sign that businesses are trying to cash in on his success for commercial reasons.

"They shouldn't be allowed to overshadow Mo's achievement."

Chen defended himself on his micro blog on Monday.

"When I noticed Mo could not afford to buy a large house in Beijing, even with all the prize money, I wanted to give him one of my villas so he could spend more time writing excellent stories that provide insight into ethnic culture, instead of worrying about housing," he said.

He said Mo is free to choose two villas out of the 13 properties he owns within the capital city's Second Ring Road.

Pei offered Mo the Mercedes-Benz on Saturday.

"I just had this idea all of a sudden to offer Mo a car over the weekend, to congratulate him and show how proud I was," he said on Tuesday. "Surprisingly, it provoked a lot of discussion among netizens."

Xie Jing, a professor of communication at Fudan University, said inspiring young writers is more important than helping companies make profits.

"Those businessmen were probably acting out of good intentions and only wanted to congratulate Mo," she said.

"But they have succeeded in catching the public's attention, giving them a way to promote themselves. And that should be avoided. This achievement should be used to encourage more people to come out with representative Chinese works."

In an interview with Xinhua News Agency on Friday, the novelist said he wanted to use the 8 million Swedish krona ($1.2 million) he received from the Nobel committee to buy an apartment in downtown Beijing, only to learn the biggest he can afford will have 120 square meters of space.

Speaking to the Huaxi Metropolitan newspaper, Mo's brother Guan Moxin said the writer had refused to accept the gifts.

"We're thankful for their concerns, but he definitely won't accept this offer of a villa," he was quoted as saying.

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