Former Cuban president Fidel Castro was declared winner of the Confucius Peace Prize, China’s version of the Nobel Peace Prize, for his “important contributions” to peace. The Cuban revolutionary was a no-show to the event, but a group of exchange students were there to accept the award on his behalf during a ceremony in Beijing on Tuesday, just one day before Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai and and Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi received their Nobel Peace Prices in Oslo’s city hall.
“Mr. Castro, during his leadership of Cuba, didn’t use force or violence when resolving conflicts and problems in international relations and Cuba’s ties with the U.S.,” China’s nationalist rag Global Times wrote, citing a member of the Confucius prize jury (via WSJ). “This has important inspirational meaning with regard to the resolution of current international conflicts.”
Castro, who created the first communist state in the Western hemisphere, left office in 2006 for health reasons and passed the torch on to his younger brother Raul Castro. While he would hardly be celebrated as a peacemaker among Western observers, any sense of irony may or may not be lost on the China International Peace Studies Center, the non-government affiliated group running the event (the head of which once nominated himself for the award). Only one person from mainland China has ever been awarded the prize: Yi Cheng, Zen Master and honorary head of the Buddhist Association of China, got it last year.
His nonappearance at the ceremony only adds to the PR clusterfuck surrounding the whole event. The first winner of the prize, former Taiwanese vice-president Lien Chan, was never even notified ahead of the ceremony in 2010 and Putin’s award in 2011 was picked up by some female Russian exchange students decked out in fur. The 2012 winner, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, never came to get his award either.
Previously on Shanghaiist:
Breaking: Vladimir Putin declared winner of the 2nd annual Confucius Peace
Putin spokesperson responds to Confucius Peace Prize award
Shanzhai Confucius Peace Prize appears, original organisers not amused
Guess who’s behind the Confucius Peace Prize?