Putin named winner of Confucius Peace Prize
The controversial Confucius Peace Prize - banned by the mainland authorities in September - has made a comeback through a Hong Kong-registered company.
The organiser said this year's award went to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and an award ceremony will be held on December 9 in Beijing, according to poet Qiao Damo, one of the founders of the prize.
The award was banned by the Ministry of Culture for 'violating relevant regulations' on the grounds that the organiser, represented by the Chinese Local Art Association, was not authorised to stage such an event and had 'severely breached regulations of social organisations'.
Qiao said he wanted to continue with the prize, so he decided to set up a company in Hong Kong, bypassing the ministry's ban.
'I will keep going on with this Confucius prize because this is my long-term cause,' he said, adding that he was planning another award similar to the Nobel Peace Prize.
Qiao said he paid 9,300 yuan (HK$11,400) to an agent in Beijing who helped him register the China International Peace Research Centre in Hong Kong. The company will engage in academic research and award distribution.
The Confucius prize attracted attention last year when it was hastily unveiled after jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Kuomintang honorary chairman Lien Chan won the Confucius prize but he did not attend the award ceremony.
Putin (pictured) - if he attends the ceremony - will be presented with a certificate and a Confucius statuette.
Qiao said he had already faxed an award notification to the Russian embassy in Beijing.
He said there were eight candidates for this year's award, and the winner was decided by a panel of 16 people who are mostly his friends in the academic circle.
Nine members voted for Putin, citing his 'achievements for regional and global peace development'. Six favoured agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, and one panel member picked German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel.
Last year's award was organised by the Cultural Protection Department under the Chinese Local Art Association, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Culture.
The association yesterday distanced itself from this year's award, saying it had nothing to do with it.