Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe is the latest strongman to win China’s Confucius Peace Prize

Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwean dictator, 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.

Here are the past winners:

2010

Lien Chan, former Taiwanese Kuomintang chairman, who met regularly with Chinese Communist Party leaders.

2011

Vladimir Putin, Russian president. A statement from the organizers said: “His iron hand and toughness revealed in [Russia’s 1999 war with Chechnya] impressed the Russians a lot, and he was regarded to be capable of bringing safety and stability to Russia.”

2012

Kofi Annan, former UN secretary general, for his “enormous contribution to the reform and revival of the United Nations.”

Yuan Longping, agriculture professor, for his work on hybrid rice.

In 2012 the award money was also raised from 100,000 yuan ($15,000) to $1.5 million which, chairman Qiao Damo noted, is “also more than the $1.2 million that the EU, the recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, will receive.”

2013

Yi Cheng, former president of China’s Buddhist Association.

2014

Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba.

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