“China is going to give its own Confucius peace prize just a day before this year’s Nobel prize ceremony”. I read this on one of my friend’s renren status an hour ago. That sounded like a really bad PR campaign. And not like what Chinese authority would usually react to this type of things. Usually it would try to block information and let the fuss die down quietly—many Chinese still don’t know who won the 1989 Nobel peace prize and the 2000 Nobel literature prize. Is Chinese authority so irritated this year by the Nobel peace prize committee awarding the jailed dissident, Liu Xiaobo that it decided to take a whole new approach and start a counter-Nobel-peace-prize prize? By having it right before the Nobel peace prize the public discussion would be raised again and that is the least what authority wants to see.
Is Chinese authority dumb or this information fake? I started to google “Confucius peace prize”. The results contained reports from big-time media such as The New York Times, Time and CNN. The New York Times’ report titled “19 Countries to Skip Nobel Ceremony, While China Offers Its Own Prize” reported
China announced that it would create its own prize for peace
The chairman of the newly created Confucius Peace Prize committee, Tan Changliu, told The Associated Press that the first award would be given this week to Lien Chan
and, of course, it spent most portion of this report talking about Liu Xiaobo. Who exactly created this award? New York times said it was “China”. That’s misleading, is this “China” Chinese government or NGO or just some regular Chinese guys?
I went to the AP report which was mentioned in the article to find out. This report became the source for many other media. It said that
“Awards committee chairman Tan Changliu said his group was not an official government body, but acknowledged that it worked closely with the Ministry of Culture.”
So this Confucius peace prize was not a governmental act. But New York Times “missed” this key information saying it is “China” who created this award.
New York Times’ article is just one example, and the one from Time is also worth mentioning. The article was titled “Who needs Nobel: China launches the Confucius peace prize” which also spending half of the article talking about Liu Xiaobo, said the award is “a newly launched, China approved alternative. ” I wonder where they got the “China-approved” information. This report also missed the information of who created the award but it provided a link to the AP report which I just read.
Who created this award is very important information because anyone can create an award and get public attention. If this award was created by a nobody then it is really not worth mentioning. It would be very different if this award was created by Chinese government or at least with the support of Chinese government. Media like New York Times and Time intentionally (or not) missed this piece of information and made it seemed as if it was a governmental act. The AP report they both referred to said the group “was not an official government body, but acknowledged that it worked closely with the Ministry of Culture” but did not mention who this group is and its government connection. So that’s what we need to find out about.
I turned to Chinese language websites in the hope of finding out more information. Many reports regarding this issue started with “According to foreign media”. There are also reports doubting the award giving organization. In an article from United Daily News, it reported that the Ministry of Culture denied that it had ever cooperated with any civil organization to create this award and that it had never “worked closely” with the award giving group. The award giving group, according to the United Daily, was named “Chinese folk tradition and art preservation protection ministry of ministry of culture” and was “attached” to an NGO founded with the help of the ministry of culture called “Chinese folk art association”. From a “senior journalist” the report quoted, the members of this group are mostly not so prominent university professors.
OK, here is my final speculation: A group of Chinese fame-thirsty professors created this “Confucius peace prize” and contacted (or was discovered by) AP. AP reported them and other media started to follow up this thread. The Nobel peace prize giving ceremony is around the corner and they need to report about it anyway. This Confucius news sounded so funny and eye-catchy and would be such a great thing to add to their otherwise boring and repeated Nobel peace prize reports. And it is always better to say “China” had done something than to say “a small and non-influential Chinese organization” had done something. Because this way it can raise speculation and attract more attention, which is what they want.