Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who’s the fairest of them all?
China’s Confucius Peace Prize, unveiled hastily last year after a bunch of cantankerous Scandinavians had the nerve to award the Nobel Peace Prize to a Chinese citizen, is back! Among the shining beacons of peace in the running for the highly-uncoveted prize this year is Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, known around the world for his dictatorial ways, forcible silencing of his critics, and for being the “Butcher of Chechnya”.
Two of the eight nominees are recycled from last year’s list: Gyaltsen Norbu, the 21-year-old boy hailed by the Chinese government as the 11th Panchen Lama (but not recognised anywhere else), is one of them. Bill Gates, the business magnate who has been active in China recently through his philanthropic arm, is another.
While Sina Weibo has been abuzz with the news of this year’s nomination list, the Chinese press has so far been curiously silent. Other candidates named in AFP’s report are South African President Jacob Zuma, former UN chief Kofi Annan, Yuan Longping, a Chinese agricultural scientist known as the “father of hybrid rice”, and German chancellor Angela Merkel.
Explaining Merkel’s appearance on the nomination list, Liu Haofeng, the award’s executive chairman said the chancellor had been chosen for “her contribution to regional peace in Europe” and because they wanted to “remind her that she should pay attention to Eastern values.” Gee whiz! Whatever happened to diplomacy? And are they sure Merkel won’t go running to meet the Dalai Lama after she wins the award, like she did in 2007?
(And while we’re at it — what on earth are these “Eastern values” that Liu speaks of? Your correspondent has been trying to figure that one out for the last 34 years!)
The last of the eight nominees, according to the Weibo grapevine, is Taiwanese politician James Soong (宋楚瑜), founder of the People First Party within the Kuomintang-led faction. Lien Chan (连战), honorary chairman of the Kuomintang, was the embarrassed winner of the inaugural prize last year. He did not attend the award ceremony, saying he had only heard of the prize through the press and had not received any official invitation to attend the ceremony.
Let’s see who this year’s lucky winner will be!
Next Media Animation’s homage to the inaugural Confucius Peace Prize in 2010:
Previously on Shanghaiist
China’s Confucius Peace Prize: What is it really?