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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 17:48 GMT
HK welcome for exiled Nobel laureate
 Chinese writer Gao Xingjian
Mr Gao's works are banned in mainland China
By Hong Kong correspondent Damien Grammaticas

The exiled Chinese writer, Gao Xingjian, has given his first speech on Chinese soil since he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature last year.

Mr Gao's works are banned in mainland China, but 1,500 people turned out to hear him talk during a short stay in Hong Kong.

He said he was overwhelmed by his reception and honoured to be talking about his work in Hong Kong.

Mr Gao has lived in exile in France for more than a decade.

Media scrum

Among the people packed into the hall at the Chinese University to hear him, were fans of his work who had come from the mainland.

Gao Xingjian in 1987
Gao Xingjian in 1987 after he fled China for Paris
One woman said she had taken three buses and trains to hear him.

She said she was unable to read his works in China.

The decision to award Mr Gao the Nobel Prize angered Beijing, but as soon as he appeared in the hall in Hong Kong he was surrounded by a media scrum.

It took him about 10 minutes to reach the stage.

Mr Gao said politics had interfered too much with literature in the 20th Century.

He talked of having to burn his work during China's Cultural Revolution and said he wanted his writing to be free from politics.

Mr Gao was pressed to comment on the fact that Hong Kong's political leaders have declined to meet him.

"I am just a writer," he said. "I've been overwhelmed by my reception. The audience is full of my readers. This is the best reception I could be given."

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See also:

07 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Nobel laureate condemns Beijing
12 Oct 00 | Europe
Chinese writer wins Nobel prize
12 Oct 00 | World
Profile: Gao Xingjian
10 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
China in denial over Nobel laureate
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