So much for the “Confucius Peace Prize”

What if they gave an award and the recipient didn’t show up? As we all know, that’s what happened last year when the Nobel committee set up an empty chair for the imprisoned Liu Xiaobo, infuriating the Chinese government, which saw the committee’s choice of Liu as an act of provocation, something that caused China a lot of hurt feelings.

What followed next was a vintage only-in-China fiasco, in which a group in China quickly created the “Confucius Peace Prize,” presented as China’s version of the Nobel, which they awarded to former Taiwan vice-president Lien Chan, who didn’t want it. Once more, there was “an empty seat,” and China once again had its feelings hurt by the ridicule this created.

Now it seems the ill-conceived Confucius Peace Prize is in jeopardy.

The Confucius Peace Prize, which started last year and was widely heralded as China’s Nobel Peace Prize, faces the prospect of cancellation this year, as an official group reportedly behind it has denied any ties with the award.

When the prize was announced on Sept 17 last year, one of the organizers was Wang Shenggui, a division chief for the Beijing-based Association of Chinese Local Art.

However, according to a recent statement, the group said Wang was acting outside of his official capacity, and that plans to start the award were never discussed with association heads, who answer directly to the Ministry of Culture.

“Wang didn’t tell us anything about the prize,” said Zhang Houbang, the association’s standing vice-president.

The group only became aware of it through media reports, he said, adding that the ministry called him on Sept 19 to demand an explanation.

Zhang stressed that the association’s focus is limited to promoting Chinese art, and that Wang’s involvement in the prize was not allowed.

Wang was subsequently dismissed for violating the rules, while his division, which focused on the preservation of traditional culture, was scrapped, said the statement.

This is what we call a train wreck. Everything the CCP has done to suppress the Liu Xiaobo story has only succeeded in keeping it front and center. The Confucius prize only exists, of course, because of Liu, and any coverage it gets dredges up the embarrassment China suffered with the empty seat in Oslo. Now once again China faces smirks as the world witnesses the internal disarray that seems to spell the end of the Confucius Peace Prize. And once again, the story of Liu’s imprisonment and his wining the Nobel prize gets churned up all over again.

I’m not making any comment for or against Liu; we’ve discussed that many times here. This is a story of incompetency and gob-smackingly bad public relations. How could the Confucius Peace Prize have been trumpeted with such fanfare last year if it was never blessed by the government? Something doesn’t add up, and the only thing that emerges as crystal clear is the government’s complete mishandling of something they should have known would result in international ridicule. Well done.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 41 Comments

One of the oddest facts in this entire fiasco was that one of the nominees for the Confucius Peace Prize this year was none other than the dedicated Confucian Vladimir Putin. Whoever came up with the nominee list must have been drunk on baijiu and Global Times editorials.

September 30, 2011 @ 12:47 pm | Comment

Man, just like “Serf Liberation Day”*, the Confucius prize is waaaaaaay too much entertainment for them not to have it. I suggest we stump up the dough to keep the thing running and write in a candidate. Here’s what I’m thinking:

1) Shaun Rein.
2) Muammar Gaddafi.
3) Lady Gaga.
4) Simon Cowell.
5) That lady announcer on North Korean news.

Decide the whole thing with a phone-in vote on some really lame local cable TV channel serving a third-tier city and make the award trophies one of those stupid perspex “friendship” trophies they hand out once a year to foreigners at those local government meet-n-greets.

And the effect still wouldn’t be as embarrassing as what actually happened.

*Like, seriously dude, you could just totally change that first ‘e’ into a ‘u’ and it would be, like, the most awesomest, gnarly, radical festival ever to be held in land-locked Tibet!

September 30, 2011 @ 2:19 pm | Comment

And in another propaganda FUBAR:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/sep/30/china-launch-america-the-beautiful

September 30, 2011 @ 3:38 pm | Comment

Both this (Confucius Peace Prize) and the America the Beautiful gaffe are hilarious.

I really hope they can continue the Confucius Prize though. I like FOARP’s idea. I’d nominate Mrs Jiang Yu, the famous China’s spokeswoman.

September 30, 2011 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

The 2011 CPP should be jointly awarded to Pugster and Bo Xilai.

And I would induct Fauna and Chinabounder into the Hall of Fame.

September 30, 2011 @ 9:03 pm | Comment

The CCP has never met a foot it couldn’t shoot, especially its own.

October 1, 2011 @ 12:23 am | Comment

“Widely heralded as China’s Nobel Peace Prize,” that’s a nice way of putting it instead of “widely snickered at as China’s infantile tit-for-tit response to not liking the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.”

October 1, 2011 @ 12:37 am | Comment

MAC, it was the Chinese government that did the heralding. The rest of the world snickered, especially after the recipient of the first (and only) prize made it clear he wasn’t interested.

October 1, 2011 @ 1:01 am | Comment

“in 500 years you will see history is on our side.”

Tan Changliu, Chairman of the Confucius Prize Committee, 9th of December, 2010

It’s taken rather less time than that to see whose side history is on, Tan me old chum!

Here’s the thing though – the prize was awarded last year, but now the government’s behaving as if it’s only just heard about it? Way to go with the lame attempt to avoid responsibility for this FUBAR guys.

October 1, 2011 @ 3:19 am | Comment

When those in power hide behind walls, literal (Zhongnanhai) or figurative (ignorance), the end result, while certainly laughable, is also very often tragic and painful for the rest of us. What most don’t understand is that these “gaffs” are not seen as such by those who perpretate them. Much like the a addict who needs an intervention, they are unaware of what they are doing to themselves or to others.

October 1, 2011 @ 7:48 am | Comment

[...] 北京烤鸭博客:“孔子和平奖”不过如此——这个奖之所以会诞生,是因为刘晓波的获奖。媒体对这个奖的任何报道,都令人想起奥斯陆的空椅子。这大概是它被取消的根本原因。 [...]

October 1, 2011 @ 9:00 am | Pingback

Some cheeky blogger should come up with a Podiatric Marksmanship Prize for moments like these.

October 1, 2011 @ 6:09 pm | Comment

Nothing like a good turf war. Apparently we have all been jeering in the wrong direction.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/02/world/asia/competing-confucius-award-bares-discord-in-china.html

October 2, 2011 @ 5:08 am | Comment

To KT:
LOL that’s hilarious. Now there’ll be a Confucius Peace Prize, not to be confused with the Confucius World Peace Prize. Maybe they’ll follow that up with a Confucius Galactic Peace Prize, and a Confucius Universal Peace Prize too. You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried.

October 2, 2011 @ 7:48 am | Comment

Nobel Peace Prize is a Western/Jewish tool to subvert countries they dislike and resent. The committee would award such annual prize to war criminals in the West, people such as Kissinger,.., and at the same time give the piss prize to dissidents in the other countries outside their sphere to encourage fleadom and human riots in those countries. The former USSR was the best example.

Jewish intellectuals love to force their “ideals” down the throats of other peoples.

October 2, 2011 @ 8:04 am | Comment

I feel persecuted. Hit up the NYT link here and it takes, yet it doesn’t take on my blog.

Loved the two money quotes.

http://kingtubby1.wordpress.com/

October 2, 2011 @ 9:17 am | Comment

Don, I’m afraid I have to ban you. I tolerate a lot of crap, but anti-Semitism isn’t something I tolerate. 88.

October 2, 2011 @ 10:49 am | Comment

This is a story of incompetency and gob-smackingly bad public relations.

Richard, this looks like advice to a bunch of vandals as to how they could make their turds look somewhat nicer. But guess why they don’t care about PR advice: they don’t think of their concept as a turd at all. In their view, it’s a beautiful cup of Jasmine tea. They don’t mind the smell either. The only thing that bothers them is that a stupid foreigners (or Chinese, for that matter) can still see (and smell) the turd.

October 2, 2011 @ 2:13 pm | Comment

a few stupid foreigners, of course.

October 2, 2011 @ 2:16 pm | Comment

@JR – You’re right. The real story here is Liu Xiaobo and his (imprisoned without charge) wife. Even had the Confucius Prize been a work of PR genius, it wouldn’t excuse his imprisonment for simply exercising freedom of speech and association.

October 2, 2011 @ 7:06 pm | Comment

Confucius is the biggest burden for Chinese people today. All his ideas, loyalty to kings, loyalty to parents, the “middle way”, etc. conflict with mainstream Western (world) values, the result is that Chinese people are mentally and spiritually weak, never bold, never ambitious, never aggressive. And this is reflected in people’s careers and romance. Look at Asian men in America today? They are almost a nameless race, no personality, no ambition, no charm, no sexuality. A race who only knows how to study and be robot to fulful their parents’ wishes. They are just the negative effects of Confucius ideals.

In order for Chinese people to truly liberate themselves in America. They must say good by to Confucius, and embrace the aggressive and adventurous style of the West. Be a blue-water civilization (outwardly open), instead of a yellow-river civilization (inwardly static).

October 3, 2011 @ 12:35 am | Comment

“Look at Asian men in America today?”

I could cite the example of a good friend of mine who’s way with women and aw-schucks faux-shyness had girls of all varieties lining up at the door, but what would be the point?

October 3, 2011 @ 1:00 am | Comment

@Stephen King. A rejection of Confucianism is okay, but what is this hairy chested Manifest Destiny crap? Did you escape from Survivor?

October 3, 2011 @ 4:11 am | Comment

@StephenKing
“Confucius is the biggest burden for Chinese people today”
How much of what you say hinders the Chinese today is Confucius and how much is it CCP? There’s a BBC program about religion in China…
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00kcprx

October 3, 2011 @ 5:06 am | Comment

I nominate this feller for the New Confucius Peace Prize
http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/677717/Time-to-teach-those-around-South-China-Sea-a-lesson.aspx

October 3, 2011 @ 5:15 am | Comment

It is easy and stupid to stereotype Asian males. Look at young Japanese males in Oz today, surfing the hell out of really big waves and also getting lucky in the midnight hour I suspect. I work for a volunteer organisation which calls for hard manual labour at times, and our crews usually consist of two-thirds Japanese and Koreans of both sexes.

October 3, 2011 @ 5:51 am | Comment

Most Asian males I know are Kiwis. A couple might be able to speak Chinese/Korean/Japanese…

October 3, 2011 @ 5:52 am | Comment

Yes, there are individual examples of vibrant Asians, but they are those who have embraced blue-water civilization and got rid of their yellow-river blood. They may look Asian on their skin, but their behavior, their thinking, their value system, and often their physique (via going to the gym often) are all western.

In a way, Liu Xiaobo is right when he said, the only hope for China is for her to be colonized by Western power for at least 300 years. Why 300 years? Because the yellow-river civilization is too deeply rooted, too strongly entrenched into people’s minds and bloods, 100, 200 years won’t be enough to truly cleanse it.

October 3, 2011 @ 6:14 am | Comment

Considering it’s 2011, it’s interesting to meet a time traveller like stephenking who brings with him racist attitudes that harken back to the 1950′s if not earlier.

October 3, 2011 @ 6:23 am | Comment

Did I miss a twitter feed or Facebook page calling for a flashmob of racists on richard’s blog? First we get the dumbster, now king.

October 3, 2011 @ 6:29 am | Comment

@SKC – make that the 1850s….
Shame that some people can only see things in B&W – I read Liu Xiaobo’s colonisation piece4 adn I don’t see it as a literal thing but as a metaphor (I think it’s a metaphor…someone correct me).

October 3, 2011 @ 6:42 am | Comment

It’s not racism at all. I am Chinese, I love China. I think the Chinese civilization has a lot of superior aspects to the West (I’ll discuss these another time).

But the fact of the matter is, today’s age is a West (Anglo-Saxon) dominated age. We can only try to accommodate today’s age.

October 3, 2011 @ 6:49 am | Comment

Ummm, the Anglo-Saxons are buit one small western thought. China is currently under the Eastern western rule (communism – though Marx and Engels did refine their theories in Manchester) as the CCP are a variation of Russian communism, albeit now following capitalism (which isn’t a regional variation of anything – money is money, east or west).
All civilisations have good points adn bad points. On the whole, these all canccel each other out leaving us with only the result that civilisations are merely…different.

October 3, 2011 @ 6:56 am | Comment

Heheheheh – I can write bollocks when I want to, eh?
Why China will not rule the world
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/8796486/Why-China-wont-conquer-the-world.html

Doesn’t mention anything about Western (Anglo-Saxon or any other sort…even Russian Communist) invasions.

October 3, 2011 @ 8:46 am | Comment

I think Steven King has been watching the documentary River Elegy….yellow river mentality versus blue water civilization? Of course, the film puts the ideas he is espousing a bit more eloquently.

I agree with Mike G that too many people make the mistake of ignoring CCP/Maosim’s cultural influence and laying the blame for China’s current malaise solely on Confucianism. Not that Confucianism isn’t influential, but because of the 5000 years of history/ancient unchanging culture stereotype, people tend to fall back on cliche anachronistic explanations of modern phenomena.

October 3, 2011 @ 9:01 pm | Comment

Wait, as I remember, StephenKing is also an old-time commenter on this blog, just like Jing. Is someone exploiting old identities in order to avoid moderation? Jing’s style and StephenKing’s style seems the same, as is the content of their commentary.

October 3, 2011 @ 11:00 pm | Comment

“Chinese people are mentally and spiritually weak, never bold, never ambitious, never aggressive. And this is reflected in people’s careers and romance. Look at Asian men in America today? They are almost a nameless race, no personality, no ambition, no charm, no sexuality. A race who only knows how to study and be robot to fulful their parents’ wishes.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14990721
Seems even a century ago this was a false stereotype….

October 4, 2011 @ 9:23 am | Comment

FOARP: Wait, as I remember, StephenKing is also an old-time commenter on this blog, just like Jing. Is someone exploiting old identities in order to avoid moderation? Jing’s style and StephenKing’s style seems the same, as is the content of their commentary.

I’ve had the same thought, but they are using the same old email addresses as before (if they weren’t their comments would beheld for moderation). But they sure don’t sound like they used to, especially Jing. Mystery.

October 4, 2011 @ 12:25 pm | Comment

Geez. Angela Merkel is a nominee this year. That makes my day!

October 4, 2011 @ 10:23 pm | Comment

Frau Merkel? What are this guys drinking? I want one glass too!

October 5, 2011 @ 5:39 am | Comment

Look, if the CPP folk want to be really mischievous, they would be nominating the internet collective Anonymous.

All the CPP folk have displayed so far is an acute lack of imagination.

It is just great to see this general pissed-offness with governmental/bureacratic/financial elites spreading to the USA. The new paradigm of the 21st century coming into existence. And it will be fully realised when there is a banker or bureacrat hanging from every lamp post. The full Mussolini treatment.

@ Eco. I think JR was being ironical.

October 5, 2011 @ 5:52 am | Comment

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