Anne Enright on China and Censorship
The Age reports on Man Booker winner, Anne Enright’s remarks before leaving for a trip to mainland China. The Irish author was in Hong Kong for the Man International Literary Festival and planned to fly to Shanghai afterwards.
When asked to comment on China’s curbs on the freedom of expression, from banning books to jailing writers, Enright spoke broadly of the prevailing power of literature in overcoming the debilitating effects of censorship on society.
“There was no way that when I was growing up that the tide of Irish writing was going to be stopped by something even as powerful as the Catholic Church,” she said, citing the uncompromising writing of Edna O’Brien and John McGahern.
“By conviction I’m against censorship in general and also in a pragmatic kind of way I think it doesn’t work,” she added.
The eyes of the world are on China ahead of the Olympic Games and a range of issues are of concern. Individuals with contrary opinions to the Chinese state are jailed, internet and media censorship is rife, and the ruthless suppression of Tibet continues.
The Icelandic singer Bjork shouted “Tibet! Tibet!” during a recent Shanghai concert, and the Chinese government immediately announced tighter controls over foreign singers and other performers. Film director Steven Spielberg resigned as artistic adviser to the Olympics due to Beijing’s policy toward Sudan’s Darfur.
The international writers’ association, PEN, is campaigning to free nearly 40 jailed Chinese writers before the Olympics, some of whom had been sentenced without trial.
But it seems that most western governments are so enamoured by the possibilities of the massive Chinese market, that their protests against the next super-power’s abuses of human rights are weak and ineffective.