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China: Why Didn't Putin Come Pick Up His Confucius Peace Prize?

Categories: East Asia, China, Russia, Arts & Culture, Politics

Nationalist Chinese leftists seem to have been left out in the cold with their annual Confucius Peace Prize [1], the second of which was awarded to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin last month. China's Ministry of Culture has publicly distanced itself from the Prize and even tried to shut it down.

As with last year's recipient, Putin didn't turn up to accept the award at a ceremony held in Beijing [2] this past weekend; Phoenix blogger Cai Shenkun tells us why [3] [zh]:


At the award ceremony on December 9, Chairman of the Confucius Peace Prize (CPP) jury committee, Qiao Damo, introduced this year's recipient, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, in great detail and awarded the Prize in Putin's place to BelarusianRussian exchange students, Sasha and Mascha, who then read out an introduction to Putin in Russian.


Then, Peking University professor and CPP jury member Kong Qingdong [4] read out the reasons why Putin was chosen as the recipient for the second annual CPP: “Given Vladimir Putin's remarkable achievements throughout his terms as president and prime minister of Russia, distinguished both among his domestic peers and in foreign policy circles, and the wellbeing that he has brought the majestic people of Russia, but also through his resolve in early 2011 to oppose NATO strikes against Libya, Putin has made an outstanding contribution to maintaining world peace and serves as a model figure for contemporary humans. For these reasons, he has been awarded the 2011 2nd annual Confucius Peace Prize.”
Kong Qingdong (bottom), image from Shanghaiist.com [2]

Kong Qingdong (bottom), image from Shanghaiist.com



What's interesting is that not a single Russian official was on site to accept the award. Prior to this, the Ministry of Culture ordered that candidate selection for this unapproved activity be put to a halt. Some feel that the CPP, established to oppose the Nobel Peace Prize, not only hasn't received international recognition, but even Chinese officials have tried to sever all connection to it. 

Last year's CPP went to Kuomintang honorary chairman Lien Chan [5], but even Lien didn't accept the award and instead a young woman was selected by its organizers to accept Lien's prize on his behalf.



The recipient of the 2nd CPP was revealed on November 13 this year, selected by a jury comprised of 16 domestic academics, including Peking University Professor Kong Qingdong, Tsinghua University Professor Qiu Zhuo, Tsinghua PhD holder Fei Bigang, as well as CPP candidate from the previous year, Qiao Damo. Russia has yet to make any official statement regarding this year's award, but some Russian media have said that Putin himself feels “extremely awkward” at having been chosen as the recipient. 

In fact, even China has tried to distance itself from the CPP. The Ministry of Culture even issued a formal statement on its website saying that the “Chinese Folk Art Association” has never received authorization from any branch of the Ministry to hold the CPP award ceremony, and that any group which organizes an activity under that name will be held legally responsible. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson, when asked about the CPP, refused to answer the question.


The antics of this player Kong Qingdong in trying to pass the award off as representing the country have truly embarrassed the government. Responsible for organizing and selecting the recipient for last year's CPP was the Chinese Folk Art Association, a part of the Ministry of Culture. This year has been an uphill battle for the CPP. After the Chinese Folk Art Association, the official sponsor of CPP events, was revoked by the Ministry of Culture, it changed its name to the Chinese Society Cultural Development Fund, but that too was quickly shut down. In the end, CPP candidate Qiao Moda registered a new organization in Hong Kong, the “China International Peace Studies Center.”



At the award ceremony, Kong Qingdong, who claims to be a descendant of Confucius, aside from praising Russian Prime Minister Putin, also strongly attacked the USA. “The USA is a country of gangsters, a rogue state. The USA has destroyed peace for all people on earth.” 

So according to Kong's logic, anyone who opposes the USA can win themselves a Confucius Peace Prize.

The most ironic part is that right while Beijing was awarding Putin his “Confucius Peace Prize,” Putin himself was facing down anti-Putin demonstrations in more than 50 cities across Russia [6], and receiving this prestigious award from Beijing couldn't have helped him much.