Demise of Confucius Prize?

The Confucius Prize, established last year in an apparent response to Liu Xiaobo’s selection for the Nobel Peace Prize, has been cancelled, according to the Associated Press:

An official with the Ministry of Culture’s press office who like many Chinese bureaucrats would give only his surname, Zhou, confirmed Thursday that the prize had been called off. Zhou said the ministry had nothing to do with establishing the prize or its cancellation.

“This was totally their own choice,” he said. “It had nothing to do with the Ministry of Culture.” […]

The first Confucius prize was awarded to former Taiwanese vice president Lien Chan, though Lien, unaware of the proceedings, did not show up to claim it. Instead the prize was given to a small girl who organizers declined to identify.

The prize was named after the philosopher and was intended to give the Chinese “viewpoint of peace,” organizers said last year. It came with a $15,000 (100,000 yuan) gift.

Shanghaiist’s account of the prize’s fate differs, however:

The Ministry of Culture has removed the Confucius Peace Prize away from its erstwhile organisers, the China Native Art Association’s Traditional Culture Protection Bureau, and ordered for it to be shut down, saying it had never been given official permission to run the awards ….

… Despite conflicting reports in the Chinese press, the show is still going on and the ceremony will continue to take place in December, insists Liu Haofeng, executive chairman of the Confucius Peace Prize. “It is just the removal of the previous organiser,” Mr Liu is quoted as saying to the AFP. Indeed, multiple organisations are now tripping over themselves to sponsor the event, added Liu, while declining to name them.

You can vote for your favourite nominee in Shanghaiist’s poll, where Vladimir Putin is currently vying for first place with Yuan “father of hybrid rice” Longping.

In another story quite unrelated to the noble institution of the Confucius Prize, authorities have cracked down on “award-related profiteering”, according to Xinhua:

The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Commission for Discipline Inspection cut the total number of award titles from 148,400 to 4,218, forbidding event organizers from handing out awards with the words “China” or “National” in their name without approval from related authorities, according to an official from a national award assessment team.

The excessive number of awards and the shoddy practices used by event organizers to promote their award ceremonies have been effectively curbed under the government’s tight supervision and regulation, according to the official, who requested anonymity ….

In one prominent case, the China Federation of Patriotic Projects came under fire in July for promoting its “Backbone of the Republic” award. Each candidate for the award was required to pay a service fee of 9,800 yuan ($1,531) in order to qualify for the title, according to previous media reports.