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Writer blasted over Nobel bribe claims

(2011-05-20 19:51:59)
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杂谈

Writer blasted over Nobel bribe claims

  • Source: Global Times
  • [05:22 May 20 2011]
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By Huang Jingjing

A controversial Chinese writer claims he tried to bribe a member of the Committee for the Nobel Prize in Literature through an unidentified broker in order to give himself a better chance of winning this year's award.

Zhang Yiyi told the Global Times in an online interview Wednesday that he transferred $600,000 to the bank account of a German sinologist, whose identity Zhang refused to disclose, in December 2010 during an academic tour of China by the scholar.

Zhang said the money was then meant to be paid to Professor Göran Malmqvist, a Swedish sinologist, to translate three of Zhang's works, as part of an attempt to bribe the scholar to influence the committee over the selection of this year's winner, reports say.

Zhang told the Global Times that the renowned German sinologist promised to direct the money to Malmqvist and later introduce them to each other.

"But this German sinologist fooled me. He took away the money but told me that Malmqvist had agreed to translate my works … The German claimed Malmqvist suggested that lobbying the committee would cost another $3 million," Zhang told the Global Times.

"I guess it would have been a whole different story if I had offered much more than that," Zhang said.

Zhang is noted for making outrageous comments and writing books that went against commonly accepted concepts of classical Chinese literature.

In April, he said he planned to pay $150,000 to undergo a facelift and become a "second Shakespeare." He has also claimed that Cao Xueqin, the author of The Dream of Red Mansions, was a woman. He completely reinterpreted the characters and the storyline of the Chinese classic in one of his latest books.

A report by China National Radio's portal, cnr.cn, said the allegations of bribery originated from Swedish media reports but did not specify the source. 

Li Xiguang, a professor of journalism and director of the Tsinghua University International Center for Communications (TICC), posted the news on his microblog Monday and said the Nobel Prize in Literature "is facing its greatest crisis of trust" and "its authority and fairness face an unprecedented challenge."

On Tuesday, Malmqvist's wife, Chen Wenfen, sent an open letter on Malmqvist's behalf addressed to the president of Tsinghua University, condemning Li for "fabricating rumors."

"I'm rather surprised that a renowned Tsinghua professor should fabricate rumors: blasting me for accepting a bribe of $600,000 in order to translate works for a writer whom I don't even know and to persuade my colleagues to give the prize to the writer," the letter said, according to a copy obtained and published by Southern Metropolis.

"The only explanation is that the professor lacks morality. It's a pity that his contemptible action will damage views of western scholars toward Tsinghua University, and increase doubts about China's media circles," the letter said.

Li replied to the newspaper, saying that the news had been carried by cnr.cn. Li deleted the microblog entry Tuesday.

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