December 8, 2010 in Nation/World

China creates peace prize rival to Nobel

Tini Tran Associated Press

BEIJING – Only three weeks after the idea was first publicly floated, China has cobbled together its own peace prize and plans to award it Thursday – the day before the Nobel Committee honors an imprisoned Chinese dissident in a move that has enraged Beijing.

Since Liu Xiaobo’s selection, China has vilified the 54-year-old democracy advocate, called the choice an effort by the West to contain its rise and launched a campaign to persuade countries not to attend Friday’s ceremony in Oslo. The government is also preventing Liu – who is serving an 11-year sentence for co-authoring a bold appeal for political reforms in the Communist country – and his family members from attending.

A commentary published Nov. 17 in a Communist Party-approved tabloid suggested China create its own award – the “Confucius Peace Prize” – to counter the choice of Liu. Three weeks later, China is doing just that.

Named after the famed philosopher, the new prize was created to “interpret the viewpoints of peace of (the) Chinese (people),” the awards committee said in a statement on Tuesday.

Awards committee chairman Tan Changliu said his group was not an official government body but worked closely with the Ministry of Culture.

The first honoree is Lien Chan, Taiwan’s former vice president and the honorary chairman of its Nationalist Party, for having “built a bridge of peace between the mainland and Taiwan.”

Lien was chosen from among eight nominees – some of whom have already won that other peace prize: including Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Panchen Lama, the second-highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism.

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