Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro is this year’s winner of the Confucius Peace Prize, China’s alternative to the Nobel Prize.
The committee that sponsors the prize praised 88-year-old Castro for peacefully resolving international conflicts.
That’s in stark contrast to the view in the West of Castro as a dictator who ran an oppressive one-party state for nearly five decades.
The Confucius prize was launched in 2010 as an alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize, which had just honored imprisoned Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo.
China’s government furiously condemned Liu’s award but has distanced itself from the Confucius prize. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Thursday said the award represented the committee’s own aspirations for world peace.
Prior recipients include former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.