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Originally published Wednesday, December 8, 2010 at 7:19 PM

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Chinese group awards own alternative 'peace prize'

A Chinese group awarded its own version of a peace prize Thursday, a move apparently intended to counter the Nobel committee's decision to honor imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Associated Press

BEIJING —

A Chinese group awarded its own version of a peace prize Thursday, a move apparently intended to counter the Nobel committee's decision to honor imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Organizers of the Confucius Peace Prize named their choice - former Taiwanese vice president Lien Chan - at a ceremony in Beijing, a day before the Nobel ceremony in Oslo that China is boycotting.

Beijing was infuriated when Liu was chosen as the Nobel Peace Prize winner in October, saying it was a Western plot against China. Officials have repeatedly called democracy activist Liu, who is currently serving an 11-year sentence for co-authoring an appeal for political reform, a criminal.

The newly created Confucius prize, which comes with a purse of $15,000 (100,000 yuan), was named after the famed philosopher and is intended to give the Chinese "viewpoint of peace," according to the committee that created it.

Lien, the honorary chairman of Taiwan's Nationalist Party, was selected from among eight nominees for his efforts at building peace between the mainland and Taiwan, according to the awards committee.

However, the man chosen for the newly created honor seemed baffled by it. On Wednesday, Lien's office in Taipei said he had no plans to travel to Beijing because he knew nothing about the award.

Instead, a young girl came forward to accept the award and money on his behalf. It is not known what connection if any she had with Lien.

Tan Changliu, chairman of the awards committee, told the AP earlier this week that his group was not an official government body, but he acknowledged that it worked closely with the Ministry of Culture.

Tan refused Thursday to comment on Liu.

"We don't want to link this peace prize with those three words," referring to Liu Xiaobo's name.

Chinese authorities have launched a propaganda campaign to demonize Liu, placed his wife and other activists under house arrest, and sought to pressure foreign governments into boycotting the awards ceremony in Norway. Besides China, about 18 other countries have declined an invitation from the Nobel committee to attend.

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