Chinese peace prize nominees include Bill Gates
BEIJING (AP) - Former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Thailand's prime minister and Microsoft founder Bill Gates are among those nominated for a Chinese alternative "peace prize."
Organisers of the Confucius Peace Prize announced the nominees on Sunday for the accolade that last year went to Russia's Vladimir Putin for enhancing his country's status and crushing anti-government forces in Chechnya.
The China International Peace Research Center launched the prize in 2010 in an apparent attempt to counter that year's Nobel Peace Prize which went to jailed Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo. He is serving an 11-year prison sentence for co-authoring an appeal for political reform. Liu's win enraged the government and Chinese nationalists, who accused the Nobel committee of interfering in China's legal system as part of a plot to bring the nation down in disgrace.
The nominees for the 2012 prize are former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, his successor Ban Ki Moon, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Bill Gates, Chinese social activist Wang Dingguo, Peking University Professor Tang Yijie, Chinese rice researcher Yuan Longping, and the 11th Panchen Lama. The Panchen Lama is the second-highest Tibetan religious leader after the Dalai Lama, but most Tibetans do not accept him because he was appointed by Beijing.