Last year when I was living in Shanghai, I posted about the advent of the Confucius Peace Prize in response to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Well, ladies and gentleman, it’s been a year since then and so the Chinese government has named the second recipient of the prize. I’ll let this NY TIMES article explain… drum roll please…
By EDWARD WONG
Published: November 15, 2011
It praised his decision to go to war in Chechnyain 1999.
“His iron hand and toughness revealed in this war impressed the Russians a lot, and he was regarded to be capable of bringing safety and stability to Russia,” read an English version of the committee’s statement. “He became the antiterrorist No. 1 and the national hero.”
Not only that, it applauded him for “acting as the propagandist of current political events” while still in high school, and for being selected to join the K.G.B. while in college, “which made true his teenage dream of joining the K.G.B.” Much later, of course, came the “large-scale military action towards the illegal armed forces in Grozny, Chechnya.”
So went the announcement by a group of 16 patriotic scholars awarding what they call their second annual “grass-roots” peace prize. Four members of the group, the China International Peace Studies Center, held a news conference on Sunday in the Fragrant Hills Park west of central Beijing, but there was curiously little reporting in the Chinese news media about the award. Then word spread over Twitter on Tuesday that Mr. Putin, who had engaged in wars in Chechnya and Georgia, had won the prize, which has been steeped in political intrigue in recent months.
“Those wars were righteous wars,” Qiao Damo, the self-described co-founder and president of the Confucius Peace Prize committee, said in a telephone interview. “Mr. Putin fought for the unification of his country.”
In fact, the campaign in Chechnya led to a stream of human rights abuses by Russian and pro-Russian Chechen security forces, including rape, torture and murder, numerous human rights organizations found at the time.
Mr. Qiao also said that the committee, which had voted for Mr. Putin from among eight nominees, valued his opposition to war. “He was against the NATO bombing of Libya,” Mr. Qiao said.
The award was first given out last year as a rejoinder to the Nobel committee’s decision to give the Peace Prize toLiu Xiaobo, an imprisoned dissident writer. Mr. Qiao said this year’s ceremony would be held on Dec. 9, and organizers hoped to hand a gilded statuette of Confucius, the Chinese sage, to Mr. Putin, along with a certificate. The award announcement did not mention any cash prize.
The winner last year, Lien Chan, a Taiwanese politician, said he had never heard of the award when contacted by foreign journalists. He did not show up at the ceremony, even though the prize came with the equivalent of $15,000 in cash. Instead, a young girl with no relation to Mr. Lien accepted a statuette and a bundle of bills.
When asked about the award on Tuesday, Dmitri S. Peskov, a spokesman for Mr. Putin, told a reporter in Moscow: “We have only heard about the award from the press. We do not know much about the prize.”
Besides Mr. Putin, candidates for this year’s Confucius Peace Prize included Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft; Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor; Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president; Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations; Yuan Longping, a Chinese scientist; Soong Chu-yu, a Taiwanese politician; and a Tibetan boy named by Chinese officials as the Panchen Lama after the abduction of a candidate supported by the exiled Dalai Lama.
Mr. Putin received nine of the 16 votes cast, Mr. Yuan six and Ms. Merkel one, Mr. Qiao said.
Among the 16 voting committee members was Kong Qingdong, a professor of Chinese literature at Peking University who has boasted widely that he is in the 73rd generation of Confucius’ lineage. Mr. Kong is also famously known for cursing at a Chinese journalist on Nov. 7, which has prompted editors at Xinhua, the state news agency, and students at Peking University to demand Mr. Kong’s resignation.
Meanwhile, a founding member of the committee, Liu Haofeng, said in a telephone interview that he had split off from the group and planned to start a new award with the help of Americans, the World Harmony Prize.
The Culture Ministry has berated the original prize committee for claiming to hand out last year’s award in the name of the ministry.
As for a new competing prize associated with the Culture Ministry, the Confucius World Peace Prize, an announcement posted last month on the ministry’s Web site said the group that had proposed the award had decided not to distribute it.
Nikolay Khalip contributed reporting from Moscow, and Mia Li contributed research from Beijing.