China has awarded the equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize to one of the world's most infamous dictators. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, who has crushed or co-opted dissent in the country, won for his "national leadership and service to pan-Africanism" and for “injecting fresh energy” into the global quest for harmony.
The 91-year-old received the Confucius trophy despite what some describe as a "brutal repression" to his people during his 35 years in power, with no clear successor.
Nine Chinese experts and scholars made the decision to award Mugabe the honour, just one month after he addressed the UN and shouted "We are not gays" before denouncing "attempts to prescribe new rights that are contrary to our values, norms, traditions, and beliefs."
During the 2013 elections in Zimbabwe, Mugabe also used the spectre of same-sex marriage to rally support against his opponent, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Controversy has begun to surround Mugabe's win and people have flocked to Twitter to react to the announcement. Hugh Riminton, an award-winning foreign correspondent wrote: "(The Confucius Prize) has been awarded to... Robert Mugabe. Not a joke."
Others followed suit:
Well, I guess if they can give the Nobel Peace Prize to Henry Kissinger, anything is possible. https://t.co/PKVkKfACOz— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) October 22, 2015
The Chinese version of the
Not a joke.— Hugh Riminton (@hughriminton) October 22, 2015
Almost choked on my Nice chocolate. | Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe awarded 'China's Nobel peace prize'— Kalenzi Disan (@kalenzidisan) October 22, 2015
UK's new best friend awards a Peace Prize to Robert Mugabe. Who said satire was dead? https://t.co/3U4mluqPyx— John Naughton (@jjn1) October 22, 2015
I'm glad David Cameron had such a good time hanging out with the President of a country who gave their Nobel peace prize to Robert Mugabe.— Angry Salmond (@AngrySalmond) October 22, 2015
Mugabe is the latest in a series of critics of the West who have received the Confucius Peace Prize, first awarded in 2010 amid Beijing's anger over the granting of the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
Prior recipients of the prize, which is awarded by a non-governmental committee composed mainly of scholars, include former Cuban leader Fidel Castro (2014) and Russian President Vladimir Putin (2011).
Other previous winners include Taiwanese former Chinese Nationalist Party chairman, Lien Chan (2010), Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General (2012), and Yi Cheng, former president of China’s Buddhist Association (2013).