October 12, 2012 ( – The Nobel committee announced today that Chinese author Mo Yan is the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature.

Mo Yan, who said he was “overjoyed and scared” at winning the prestigious award, is an outspoken critic of the One-Child Policy, under which women are routinely forced to abort their children or undergo sterilizations, and families are hit with crippling fines.

He has also expressed profound regret for having aborted his own child to comply with the law.


Mr. 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.

One passage from the book reads: “Every baby is unique. It cannot be replaced. Will the bloodstained hands never be washed clean? Will the soul wracked with guilt never be free?”

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.

“I personally believe the one-child policy is a bad policy,” Mo said. “If there were no one-child policy, I would have two or three children.”


“When I was serving in the army, I was promoted to the rank of officer,” he recounted. “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. Moe is the head of the state-sanctioned Chinese Writers Association, and has reportedly signed statements supporting the idea that art and literature should support the socialist cause.

Today’s Nobel announcement comes on the first “International Day of the Girl Child.” Last spring the UN General Assembly called upon member states to observe the day by raising awareness about the situation of girls around the world.

The awarding of the Nobel Prize was welcomed by Chai Ling, founder of All Girls Allowed, a human rights organization that fights China’s coercive population control policies.

“I hope that Mo Yan’s thoughtful criticism of the One-Child Policy will help others see its role in causing gendercide,” said Ling.  “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.”

Ling said she found hope in 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 an end to the One-Child Policy soon. He hears the cries of the afflicted and sets the oppressed free.”