As young Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai and Indian children’s rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi were preparing to accept their joint Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, a group of Cuban students accepted this year’s Confucius Peace Prize on behalf of Cuban revolutionary Fidel Castro in Beijing. At the New York Times, Edward Wong reports:
“When Castro was the leader of Cuba, he never used any violence or force when faced with problems and conflicts in international relations, especially in Cuba’s relationship with the United States,” Liu Zhiqin, a member of the award’s organizing committee, told Global Times, a state-run newspaper. “It has important inspirational value in dealing with current international conflicts. After Castro retired, he engaged in positive meetings with world leaders and organizations. Castro also contributed greatly in speaking out against nuclear warfare.”
The Confucius Peace Prize was first given out in late 2010 as a rejoinder to the Nobel Peace Prize. That year, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded its Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident writer who was detained in 2008 and convicted by officials for the crime of “inciting subversion against the state.” Mr. Liu had been the main author of an online petition, Charter 08, that called for gradual political liberalization.
[…] Almost from its inception, the Confucius Peace Prize has been mired in discord and political intrigue. Competing groups in China have claimed to be its founders, and some of the organizers have had tenuous ties to the Ministry of Culture. One group has even tried to start up a rival award, the Confucius World Peace Prize. In late 2011, the Ministry of Culture, perhaps at the urging of that group, tried to halt the awarding of the Confucius Peace Prize, but failed. [Source]
Liu Xiaobo, who has been serving an 11-year prison sentence since 2009, recently managed to get a message to Berlin-based writer Liao Yiwu confirming his welfare behind bars.
At the Wall Street Journal, Chun Han Wong notes that Castro joins his fellow Confucius laureates in not personally accepting the internationally undistinguished award, and translates netizen sarcasm on this year’s prize:
Former Taiwanese vice president Lien Chan, the inaugural winner, didn’t attend his award ceremony—his aides said at the time they weren’t even notified. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s 2011 award was picked up by Russian exchange students, while former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan also didn’t appear for his prize ceremony a year later.
The prize’s apparent irrelevance to its own recipients wasn’t lost on China’s online community.
“If Confucius, in the netherworld, was to know of this, he would be confused and embarrassed,” a user wrote on the Weibo social-media service, referring to Mr. Castro’s award. “Originally the frontrunners for this prize were Saddam [Hussein] and [Muammar] Gaddafi, but unfortunately they have since flown away to paradise,” another Weibo user wrote, referring to the late former dictators of Iraq and Libya. [Source]
Like former Confucius Peace Prize winner Vladimir Putin, Chinese officials have previously called Fidel Castro an “old friend of the Chinese people” (中国人民的老朋友 Zhōngguó rénmín de lǎo péngyou). Meanwhile, China Daily reports that President Xi Jinping has been named Russia’s “Person of the Year.” The state media report also promotes Xi’s book The Governance of China, recently translated into ten languages, after Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg praised it last week:
President Xi Jinping was named as “Person of the Year 2014” by the Russian Biographical Institute for the “strengthening of economic and political ties with the Russia”, which reflects the rising influence of China and its leader.
[…] The Russian Biographical Institute, founded in 1992, is a nongovernmental and noncommercial organization based in Moscow. Its Person of the Year award acknowledges the recipients involved as being guided by the principles of social, spiritual and moral responsibility.
[…] Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has said he is a fan of Xi. China.com.cn releaseda photo on Monday of Zuckerberg with a copy of Xi’s book on governance on his desk. The website quoted him as saying that he had purchased several copies of the book so he and colleagues could learn about “socialism with Chinese characteristics”.
The book, Xi Jinping: The Governance of China, a collection of 79 speeches and 45 photos of the president, was released by China’s Foreign Languages Press in October. So far, more than 260,000 copies have been bought by overseas distributors. [Source]