Fidel Castro gets China peace prize
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.
It is a 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 honoured imprisoned Chinese dissident writer Liu Xiaobo.
China's government furiously condemned Mr Liu's award but has distanced itself from the Confucius prize.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said today that the award represented the committee's own aspirations for world peace.
Prior recipients include former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and Russian president Vladimir Putin.
The committee that sponsors the prize praised 88-year-old Castro for "contributions to peace".
"As Cuba's leader, when managing international relations, especially relations with the US, he did not use military force or violence to resolve controversies and disputes," co-founder Liu Zhiqin was quoted as saying by the official newspaper Global Times.
Castro also made "important contributions on eliminating nuclear war after retirement," he said.
In line with past winners, the ailing Castro did not come to Beijing to pick up his award and it was not clear whether he was aware of the honour.
The prize, a gold-coloured statuette and certificate, was instead handed to a Cuban foreign student representative at a ceremony in a Beijing hotel.
The Confucius Prize sponsors are academics and private businesspeople who say they are independent of China's government.
Mr Liu said Castro was picked by a 33-member committee from a list of 14 individuals and two organizations.
Others the committee considered included South Korean president Park Geun-hye and UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.