- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

BEIJING — Authoritarian governments corrupt society, Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa told students in China, where state media covered his speech without mentioning his political comments.

The Peruvian writer spoke Tuesday at Shanghai International Studies University, which named him an honorary professor.

Without mentioning China directly, he said he wanted to show in his 1969 novel “Conversation in the Cathedral” “how a dictatorial and authoritarian government corrupts all the society” and “effectively poisons the less political activities, those activities that are further from politics, corrupting and degrading them.”

“Politics should not be left only in the hands of politicians because then politics start to go wrong,” the author told Spanish-language students. “Every single citizen should participate in the political life of his time. And from that participation the best choices can result.”


Reports in Chinese publications Wednesday stuck to Mr. Vargas Llosa’s comments on literature and how endless media interviews after winning the Nobel Prize disrupted his work and life. Media outlets in China are state-controlled.

Mr. Vargas Llosa may already have been unpopular with the authoritarian government because last year he expressed support for jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner whom China claims is a criminal.

Mr. Liu was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment in late 2009 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.”

Both men were awarded their Nobels in December, and Mr. Vargas Llosa called Liu “a Chinese fighter, who is a champion of democracy in his country.”

Mr. Vargas Llosa is in China for a nine-day academic tour at the invitation of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think tank whose Foreign Literature Institute is scheduled to give the author a title of honorary researcher on Thursday. Other Nobel laureates have in the past received the same honor.