Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean President, has been named the winner of this year’s Confucius Prize, otherwise known as “China’s Nobel Peace Prize.”
Mugabe may not seem like the obvious choice for a peace prize, given his brutal, repressive 28-year rule of Zimbabwe that has been marked by torture and killing of political opponents and destruction of the local economy. But the Confucius Prize appears to be judged by different parameters than other peace prizes.
The Confucius Peace Prize Committee was established in 2010, the same year that the Nobel committee was preparing to award a peace prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Tan Changliu, its chairman at the time, expressed a wish to promote world peace from “an Eastern perspective.”
“China is a great nation that has been influenced by the Confucian concept of peace for a long time,” he told CNN. “Europe is full of small countries that had fought each other for centuries… We don’t want to see people who don’t understand peace to ruin the concept.”
The organizers are not connected to the Chinese government, and a year after it began, China’s culture ministry attempted to shut the operation down. But the committee moved to Hong Kong and renamed itself the China International Peace Studies Center. That year it awarded Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, its peace prize.
The previous winners of the award include: Lien Chan, former Taiwanese Kuomintang chairman, who met regularly with Chinese Communist Party leaders (2010), Vladimir Putin, Russian president (2011), Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general and Yuan Longping, agriculture professor (2012) and the 2013 and 2014 edition had as winners, Yi Cheng (former president of China’s Buddhist Association) and Fidel Castro (former president of Cuba) respectively.