Only a few weeks ago it looked like the Confucius Peace Prize was going to be scrapped by the government. This would have been a fine idea, since the prize had attracted only ridicule ever since its first recipient, former Taiwanese Vice President Lien Chan, refused to accept his prize.
Now, apparently in defiance of the CCP’s order not to award the prize again, the Confucius Peace Prize organizers are at it again, awarding their equivalent (in their eyes) to the Nobel Peace Prize to Vladimir Putin who, they say, “brought remarkable enhancement to the military might and political status of Russia.”
You really can’t fault the prize’s sponsors for lack of courage:
The award’s sponsors are professors and academics who say they are independent of the government.
The authorities’ hostility to the prize appears rooted in its desire to retain control over civil society and prevent independent players from seeking a role in Beijing’s foreign relations.
While the government has enthusiastically embraced the need for more robust cultural links to enhance China’s “soft power,” it wants that charm campaign to stay under the firm direction of the ruling Communist Party.
The group hopes to present a gold statue of Confucius, the ancient Chinese sage, at next month’s ceremony, but if forced to call it off, will simply begin planning for next year’s prize…
It should be interesting to see how the party reacts, and even more interesting to see whether Putin accepts his statue (why do I suspect the winner’s seat will be as empty as that in Oslo?). As the article notes, Putin is a rather bizarre choice for the award given his repressive tactics and willingness to throw political enemies in jail.
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.