Confusion Prize hits another low

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 December, 2011, 12:00am


The controversy surrounding the Confucius Peace Prize continued yesterday when two of four women chosen to accept it on behalf of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin turned out to be from another former Soviet state - Belarus.

Qiao Damo, a Beijing-based poet and chairman of the award committee, invited the women to accept the award, a gilded statue of Confucius, and a framed certificate at a ceremony in Beijing yesterday.

One of the Russians, student Ekateryina Dakhova, said she had been contacted about the ceremony by the Russian embassy in Beijing.

A brochure handed out at a news conference said Putin had been selected from among eight nominees, receiving the votes of nine of the 16 judges, made up of academics and researchers.

'He has achieved great results in domestic and foreign policy areas and brought prosperity to the Russian people,' the brochure said. 'He took an active stand of protest against the bombing of Libya by Nato from the spring to summer this year, thus contributing invaluably to promoting world peace.'

The two Russians said they were proud that Putin had won the award because he had done a good job.

Qiao said the two Belarusians had been invited to the ceremony because Putin had wisely emphasised the alliance between Russia and Belarus.

The prize was conceived in apparent haste last year, and awarded by a shadowy group to Lien Chan, the honorary chairman of the Kuomintang in Taiwan, just one day before the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway, honouring that year's recipient, jailed mainland dissident Liu Xiaobo. The award of the Nobel to Liu sparked furious protests from Beijing.

This year, separate attempts - arising from a split in the original award committee - to stage Confucius Peace Prize and Confucius World Peace Prize award ceremonies were blocked by the Ministry of Culture. Organisers got around that through a Hong Kong-registered company, China International Peace Studies Centre, said Qiao, who registered it in October to bypass the ban.

'The authorities haven't shown any support or opposition to the prize,' Qiao said. 'I don't care what they think.'

An information officer at the Ministry of Culture said the new prize, organised by the Hong Kong company, was no longer its responsibility.

Qiao said the prize presented the Chinese 'viewpoint of peace' to supplement the Nobel Peace Prize, which he strongly opposed after it was presented to Liu.

Lien was unaware he had been awarded the first Confucius prize, and did not show up at a ceremony in Beijing in December last year to receive it. Instead it was presented to a six-year-old girl whom organisers refused to identify.

It came with a 100,000 yuan (HK$120,000) cash award that has yet to be claimed.