This is truly something that belongs in The Onion. Indeed, I had to double check to be sure that it was serious. China, one of the most oppressive nations on Earth, has given a human rights award to Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, one of the most oppressive and corrupt leaders in the world. China continues its almost comical issuance of the Confucius Peace Prize, its answer to the Nobel Peace Prize. China was tired of the Nobel people giving a human rights price to human rights advocates, particularly Chinese dissents or the Dali Lama. So it created its own prize to give those hard-working dictators an opportunity to shine. So this year, China is honoring a man who has destroyed the economy of Zimbabwe, starved his people, oppressed dissidents, and maintained one of the most disgusting levels of corruption and personal excess of any dictator in the world. Vladimir Putin previously won the award. Last year the recipient was that great humanitarian Fidel Castro.
The Chinese celebrated how Mugabe, 91, “inject[ed] fresh energy” into the global quest for harmony during his authoritarian 35 years in power. Yes like the fresh energy he has used in persecuting gays or his annual birthday extravaganzas or the endless energy his wife shows in her infamous shopping trips to Europe.
The Committee announced:
“Ever since Robert Mugabe was sworn in as the president of Zimbabwe in the 1980s, he has worked hard to bring political and economic order to the country and to improve the welfare of the Zimbabwean people by overcoming hardship.”
Honestly, that is what it said. While shame seems to no longer register in China, irony appears a Party-sanctioned theme.
Qiao Damo, the committee’s chairman, said the following with an entirely straight face: “If Zimbabwe did not have Mugabe as its president, the country would be facing great difficulty – even public security might be in danger.” Thank God Zimbabwe is not facing great difficulty given its collapsing economy and rampant corruption.
Liu Zhiqin, one of the committee’s 76 members, acknowledged, “Frankly speaking, there were internal concerns about awarding Mugabe the peace prize . . . Mugabe has been in power for such a long time that he could be easily be labelled a dictator, tyrant or despot.” Gee, you think? The question is what else could he possibly be. Nevertheless, the Committee overcame its “concerns” and embraced one of the most despicable figures in the history of Africa as a model of leadership for China.
The prize comes with an award of 500,000 yuan (£51,000) and a gold trophy. Perhaps he could put the gold trophy next to his prized, guarded commode to perfectly capture China’s latest contribution to human rights.