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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 23:40 GMT
Gao: China almost destroyed its literature

The Chinese winner of this year's Nobel Literature Prize, Gao Xingjian, has launched a fierce attack on the cultural policies of the authorities in Beijing.

In his Nobel lecture, Mr Gao said that over the past hundred years, Chinese literature had almost been destroyed.

He singled out the policies of Mao Zedong, calling his persecution of writers more extreme than during any imperial dynasty.

He said countless authors were shot or imprisoned, and intellectual freedom extinguished.

But Mr Gao -- who lives in exile in France -- also criticised Western society, saying that its consumer values had turned literature into a commodity.

He said that true freedom could only be found within the writer's own nature. The Chinese authorities have criticised the decision to award Mr Gao the Nobel prize.

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