Chinese ministry halts other Confucius peace prize

School children dressed as ancient Chinese scholars, perform during a traditional ritual to celebrate Confucius' birthday, or Teachers' Day, at Taipei's Confucius Temple

BEIJING - Following the recent cancellation of the Confucius Peace Prize, the Ministry of Culture has called off the selection of another prize named after the ancient Chinese philosopher.

The ministry said in a statement on its website on Thursday that the Confucius World Peace Prize was merely a suggestion made by some professors and that the event's organizer - the China Foundation for the Development of Social Culture - has decided to stop all the activities involved in the prize.

The framework of that prize was still being discussed by the professors who proposed it, and they had not reported it to the ministry, according to the statement.

Yang Disheng, chairman of the administrative committee of the Confucius World Peace Prize, said all activities have been suspended, the Beijing News reported on Friday.

But he said it is not being abandoned altogether and added that the administrative committee had signed a contract with the China Foundation for the Development of Social Culture to begin a fund to finance the prize.

Jiang Ye, assistant secretary general of the China Foundation for the Development of Social Culture, confirmed that the contract had been signed and told the Beijing News that the preparations for the prize will take about one year.

The news comes just three weeks after the Ministry of Culture halted the Confucius Peace Prize, which had been launched on Sept 17, 2010.

It was organized by the Traditional Culture Protection Department under the Association of Chinese Indigenous Arts, which is registered with the Ministry of Culture.

On Sept 19, the ministry posted a statement on its website saying the second Confucius Peace Prize had not been officially approved and its organizers had improperly used the ministry's name.

The first Confucius Peace Prize went to Lien Chan, the former "vice-president" of Taiwan, who did not attend the award ceremony.

Candidates for this year's Confucius Peace Prize included Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, South African President Jacob Zuma, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Despite the cancelation of the two prizes, Yang said he felt confident launching the nonprofit fund for the Confucius World Peace Prize, but that time was needed.

"We are preparing for the event, and the prize won't be announced this year," he said.