Sunday October 20, 2019

THE CONFUCIUS PEACE PRIZE GOES TO CASTRO

December 12, 2014

On December 9, A group of Chinese scholars and entrepreneurs awarded the 2014 Confucius Peace Prize to former Cuban President Fidel Castro.

Castro, a wildly divisive figure considered in the United States an oppressive dictator, was praised by the prize committee for his contributions to peaceful resolutions to international conflicts.  “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,” remarked Liu Zhiqin, a member of the committee.

Other nominees considered by the committee include United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, and the philosophy of Taosim.

Castro’s award marks the fifth annual Confucius Peace Prize. The prize, first awarded in 2010 to then-Kuomintang Chairman Lien Chan, is meant to provide an alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize, considered by many in China to be anti-Chinese.  In 2010, the Nobel Peace Prize went to Liu Xiaobo, a writer imprisoned in 2008 for seeking to undermine the Chinese government by promoting democratic reforms and criticizing the Party.

The Chinese government denies all association with the Confucius Peace Prize and with its organizing committee. When the prize was first created, the founding group had loose government affiliation, but the Ministry of Culture has since announced that it did not support the prize and ordered the committee to disband.

One of the committee members claims the group had fallen prey to a move by another, more influential group to acquire “a monopoly on Confucius Prizes.” Currently, the China International Peace Studies Center awards the prize.

The Confucius Prize holds little of the symbolic or political weight of the Nobel Peace Prize and is considered by much of the international community as a curiosity. Previous honorees include Vladimir Putin in 2011 and Yi Cheng, head of the Chinese Buddhist Association, in 2013. None of these honorees report having known about the award before hearing about it in the media. Castro, too, has made no mention of the award.

It has become a tradition that Confucius Peace Prize winners remain absent from the awards ceremony, and Fidel Castro has insured that the tradition lives on. A Cuban exchange student in Beijing accepted the award Thursday on Castro’s behalf, only one day before Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi accepted the Nobel Peace Prize.

For more information on this topic, consult the following sources:

Businessweek – “China’s Confucius Peace Prize Goes to Fidel Castro”

NPR- “Fidel Castro Awarded China’s Confucius Peace Prize”

Southern China Morning Post- “Fidel Castro wins China’s ‘Confucius Peace Prize’”

The Guardian – “Fidel Castro wins China’s alternative peace prize”

The New York Times – “China’s Defiant Choice for Its Peace Prize: Castro”

The New York Times – “Competing Confucius Award Bares Discord in China”

Global Times (环球日报) – “卡斯特罗获得孔子和平奖古巴留学生代表领”

Xinhua (新华) – “卡斯特罗获2014年孔子和平奖

Compiled and edited by Molly Bradtke.