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China to hand out its own peace prize

By Steven Jiang, CNN
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China to award Confucius Peace Prize
  • The Confucius Peace Prize comes with $15,000
  • The group releases a vaguely-worded statement on the criteria it uses
  • This year's nominees include Nelson Mandela
  • China has responded furiously to the Nobel committee's decision to honor Liu

Beijing (CNN) -- China is all set to give out its own first-ever peace prize Thursday, a move apparently to counter the Norwegian Nobel committee's choice of imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo as this year's laureate.

Organizers told CNN they will present the Confucius Peace Prize -- which comes with an award of $15,000 -- in Beijing to promote the ancient sage's philosophy, a day before the Nobel committee honors Liu in Oslo.

"China is a great nation that has been influenced by the Confucian concept of peace for a long time," said Tan Changliu, chairman of the awards committee. "We want to promote world peace from an Eastern perspective."

"Europe is full of small countries that had fought each other for centuries," he added. "We don't want to see people who don't understand peace to ruin the concept."

Tan declined to give details about his group -- other than saying it is a non-government organization -- or how the five-judge awards committee operated.

China's own peace prize
Chinese pressure to boycott Nobel event?

His committee has released a vaguely worded statement on its criteria for choosing the winner, but announced this year's nominees included Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates and the Panchen Lama, a Tibetan Buddhist leader loyal to Beijing.

China has responded furiously since the Nobel committee announced its decision on October 8. Officials have repeatedly called Liu -- currently serving an 11-year sentence for "inciting subversion" -- a common criminal and the award a Western plot against China.

A businessman first proposed a rival peace prize in a commentary on the November 17 edition of Global Times, an English-language newspaper published by the Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily.

Echoing government spokesmen, Liu Zhiqin said that by awarding the prize to a criminal, the Nobel committee created 1.3 billion "dissidents" in China.

"We often stress the need to fight for the right to speak," he wrote. "China's civil society should consider setting up a 'Confucius Peace Prize'... to declare China's view on peace and human rights to the world."

China has warned other countries of "consequences" if they attend Friday's Nobel ceremony in Oslo. A foreign ministry spokeswoman said Tuesday that more than 100 countries and groups had joined China in boycotting this year's event.

The Nobel committee, which said it had sent out 65 invitations to embassies in Oslo, counted 19 countries that had declined so far -- including China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq and Iran.

Tan, the awards committee chairman for the Confucius Peace Prize, would not divulge the guest list for his event. He confirmed the first honoree is Lien Chan, Taiwan's former vice president, for his contribution in bridging the gap between the island and mainland China.

Lien's staff said they were surprised to hear the news.

"We know who Confucius is, but don't know anything about this prize," said Ting Yuan-chao, director of Lien's office in Taipei.

Despite the perceived rivalry between the two peace prizes, they may have one important thing in common -- the absence of their recipients at this year's award ceremonies.