Articles by Dai Qing

Dai Qing: The Confucius Peace Prize

(December 14, 2010) Noted Chinese dissident and Probe International Fellow Dai Qing reflects on China’s decision to award its own peace prize.

China launched its own Peace Prize and awarded it on Thursday December 9, just one day before the Nobel Committee honoured the imprisoned Liu Xiaobo. The idea for the Confucius prize came from a man named Liu Zhiqin, who in November said, “China should establish a Confucius Peace Prize to counter the Nobel Committee, which chose Liu Xiaobo as the winner of the peace prize this year.”

Chinese officials have since launched a campaign attacking the Nobel Committee by rebuking the government of Norway, detaining Liu Xia (Liu Xiaobo’s wife) and preventing a number of critics and other people from traveling abroad, including economist Mao Yushi.

But it appears these responses by government officials have not been enough to convince the world of China’s power, and have, in fact, shown how weak of heart the country’s leadership is. Whether China is weak from within, only history will tell.

Liu Zhiqin’s proposal was posted on Global Times, a subsidiary of the government mouthpiece the People’s Daily, which claims it has “more than 350 correspondents in 75 countries.” With the self-confidence of a rising super power—and showing very little regard for the West—the article received plenty of attention from top party and state leaders.

Liu Zhiqin, a Beijing-based businessman and chief representative of a Swiss bank, is famous for his articles in Global Times—and isn’t it great to see such an unrivalled banker in the sixty years of Red China! Apparently, those running the show at Global Times admire Liu, not for his keen insight, but more for his aggressive style of writing—with remarks like, “There is nothing wrong with China being the World’s No. 1”, “As for China’s responsibility, it’s not up to the West”, “The Chinese are now confident, like never before” and “Defending the right to control exchange rates would help China’s rise for the third time.”

I recall that my friends and I discussed the proposal to create a Confucius Prize and wondered if Liu Zhiqin’s request was a personal one, or the start of a campaign by authorities. In the history of the People’s Republic, there are examples of both: the former by an article titled “Little people criticize Yu Pingbo” in the early 1950s; the latter–known to nearly everyone—by Yao Wenyuan’s piece, “On the new historical drama ‘Hai Rui dismissed from office’” published in on the  eve of the Cultural Revolution.

Unsurprisingly, Liu’s proposal eventually morphed into a major campaign by the state. I asked several scholars—including veteran teachers in charge of student affairs in Beijing Normal University—about Tan Changliu, the President of the hastily formed China Confucius Peace Prize Committee and “holder of a PhD. from Beijing Normal University.”

It turns out that nobody knows anything about him. As for the other four members of the Confucius Peace Prize Committee, very little is known of them too.

The situation appears to be more of a case of “little people playing big roles.” How could a civil organization with the prefix “China” register itself in just two weeks? And what about registration fees, registration qualifications and the money for the prize to make it competitive with the Nobel Peace Prize—or, as someone suggested on the web, “to hit the Nobel Peace Prize where it hurts most, why don’t we give the winner a greater amount, say, $10-million?”

Who is Tan Changliu anyway, and is he a superhuman with three heads and six arms?

Lian Zhan—the winner of the Confucius Prize—finds himself in a particularly difficult situation: How should he react? Should he go to Beijing to play Tan Changliu’s game?  Lian should do so if he doesn’t care if his son is shot again[1] . On the other hand, if the prize was awarded without him knowing about it, the Chinese government may be jeopardizing one of its biggest allies in Taiwan.

Many of us had concerns about the Committee after hearing about the establishment of the “Confucius Peace Prize.” Confucius! It appears the Committee treated the name as if it was a “a homeless dog in a constant state of anxiety!”

How would the Committee choose a winner, we wondered? In my view, a “Confucius Military Culture Prize” would make more sense—or maybe something like the “Heavenly Kingdom of Wealth Peace Prize.” Both of those would better reflect China’s society to the outside world.

Since the prize has both “Confucius” and “Peace” in it, why don’t we award the “Confucius Peace Prize” to Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks? But, like Liu Xiaobo, Assange would be unable to receive it. How about Osama bin Laden, the most wanted man on the planet? All of us would be delighted if this man was “peaced.”

But upon further reflection, maybe the best candidate would be Kim Jong-il—he definitely needs his own peace prize. Giving the prize to Kim Jong-il means he would be able to travel to Beijing to receive his money—a route he knows all too well. He would be delighted with the money.

BACK TO POST: 1. Lian Zhan: former vice-president of Taiwan and former chairman of Taiwan Guomingdang, visited the mainland several times and, among Taiwan’s top leaders, has one of the closest relationships with China. His son, Lian Shengwen was shot and injured on November 26, when he attended an election campaign.

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