Say hi to the all-new “Confucius Prize for World Peace”.
It would have been so much easier if China had put a full stop to the sordid affair of the Confucius Peace Prize, but nope, authorities have decided to charge ahead with their public relations trainwreck. Apparently, a rival group calling themselves the “Confucius Prize for World Peace” quietly emerged on September 21, the International Day of Peace — that’s one whole week before we found out the original organisers had been disbanded.
The “new” award has been hastily put together by a group of professors from Tsinghua University, Peking University and Beijing Normal University, and it’s unlikely that the launch would have taken place without the blessing of the Ministry of Culture.
Liu Haofeng, executive chairman of the “original” Confucius Peace Prize had earlier insisted that his award ceremony was still going on, and that it was “just the removal of the previous organiser”. Little did he know that he himself was getting replaced. Liu told Edward Wong of the New York Times that:
another group with “rich and powerful men” who had the support of the Culture Ministry were trying to muscle in on his prize. That rival group wants to offer a Confucius World Peace Prize and is trying to force Mr. Liu and his comrades to abandon their prize, Mr. Liu said.
“The ministry supports the World Peace Prize, but my Confucius Peace Prize is the first and only,” he fumed, as if indignant that someone had stolen his intellectual property rights.
But wait, that’s not all. The New York Times has more dirt on some of the behind-the-scenes developments:
On Sept. 19, the ministry ordered the so-called protection department to disband and not to organize any activities under the auspices of the Association of Chinese Indigenous Arts. The order said that the department had held a news conference on Sept. 17 about the second Confucius Peace Prize without official approval, and that the group had improperly used the ministry’s name and violated its rules. The order was posted on the ministry’s Web site last Tuesday.
One of the prize organizers and a friend of Mr. Liu, Wang Shenggui, was suspended from his job as vice president of the indigenous arts association, Mr. Wang said.
The entire fiasco came about after some of the other organizers on the committee for last year’s prize joined the rival group, the China Foundation for the Development of Social Culture, Mr. Wang said. The group then decided to start the Confucius World Peace Prize. One of group’s associate directors, Tan Changliu, was chairman of the original prize committee last year.
“They are trying to have a monopoly on Confucius prizes,” Mr. Wang said.
Asked why the ministry would support the new prize rather than the original one, Mr. Wang said one word: “guanxi.” That is the Chinese term for connections or relationships. He added that ministry officials warned him to stay out of the matter because it was “too political.”
In retort, Jiang Ye, the deputy general secretary of the rival group, slammed the efforts by the original team last year as a “total failure”. Liu and Wang, refusing to see the writing on the wall, say they are going ahead with their second awards. If they succeed, that means we may have two Confucius Peace Prizes this December instead of one.
Seriously, you can’t make this shit up. Time for us to sit back, break out the popcorn, and watch these gentlemen make the world a better place.
Previously on Shanghaiist
Richard Burger on the Confucius Peace Prize
Ministry of Culture disbands organisers of Confucius Peace Prize
Confucius Peace Prize nominee James Soong wants to be President of Taiwan
Vladimir Putin and Chinese Panchen Lama nominated for Confucius Peace Prize
China’s Confucius Peace Prize: What is it really?