A group of Chinese academics has awarded its version of the Nobel Peace Prize to Vladimir Putin, an organiser said Tuesday, pointing to the Russian Prime Minister as "outstanding in keeping world peace."
Putin beat other candidates such as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Yuan Longping, a Chinese agricultural scientist, to nab this year's "Confucius Peace Prize", Qiao Damo, one of the organisers, told AFP.
The prize emerged last year, when it was suddenly announced by the group two days before jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel to Beijing's anger, sparking speculation it was set up with the government's guidance.
Members of the jury at the time denied links to the government, but the award's executive chairman Liu Haofeng told AFP later that it had been set up by an association overseen by China's culture ministry.
Then, in a move that added to the confusion surrounding the prize, the ministry in September ordered organisers to scrap the award, saying they were not given official permission to promote it.
But Qiao on Tuesday contested this decision, saying it was "unreasonable" to cancel the prize, adding he had registered a research centre that organises the award in Hong Kong to try and circumvent the problem.
"There are 16 people in the evaluation committee, including me and three professors, eight PhD students and four of our centre's researchers," said Qiao, a poet.
According to a report in China Newsweek, a current affairs weekly, other members include professors from the prestigious Beijing and Tsinghua universities. Nine of the 16 voted for Putin.
"This April or May, Putin was against NATO's idea to bomb Libya and he appeared to the world in a peaceful manner," Qiao explained.
"This year's peace prize was given to him because his act this year was outstanding in keeping world peace."
Qiao, who said the Russian embassy had been informed about Putin's win but had not yet given a response, said the group would hold its award ceremony in Beijing on December 9 -- a day before the Nobel Peace Prize event in Oslo.
"I feel the Noble Peace Prize has gone too far away from peace, and their standard has gone too far away from the essence of peace," he said.
"Western values are not perfect and need an alternative to balance them out."