BEIJING — The Chinese committee that awarded this year’s Confucius Peace Prize minced no words in honoring the winner, Vladimir V. Putin, prime minister of Russia.
It praised his decision to go to war in Chechnya in 1999.
“His iron hand and toughness revealed in this war impressed the Russians a lot, and he was regarded to be capable of bringing safety and stability to Russia,” read an English version of the committee’s statement. “He became the antiterrorist No. 1 and the national hero.”
Not only that, it applauded him for “acting as the propagandist of current political events” while still in high school, and for being selected to join the K.G.B. while in college, “which made true his teenage dream of joining the K.G.B.” Much later, of course, came the “large-scale military action towards the illegal armed forces in Grozny, Chechnya.”
This may be disturbing to some, at different levels. Relevant to the blog’s concerns, Vygeny wonders if this is further reason to think that “Confucianism is whatever people in official positions want it to become, that it is a foldable doctrine.”
Steve Angle replies:
This has been a curious saga; the “committee” has been embroiled in controversy for claiming (without permission, apparently) to speak on behalf of a government ministry. I would hesitate before concluding anything from this about what “people in official positions want.” It’s also hard to see this as explicitly connected to any kind of overt “Confucianism.” (It will be very interesting to see what the reactions from the Confucian on-line community are.) Still, you’re certainly right to suggest that this contributes further to the story of the manipulation of the symbol “Confucius” (cf. Confucius Institutes, etc.).
This seems interesting enough to continue discussion about in a main post. Your thoughts are welcome.
(Thanks, again, to Yvgeny for initiating the discussion!)