Ignoring the peace prizes

Two peace prize winners; two peace prize winners don't pick up their prizes. This year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo remains imprisoned in China for advocating freedom. He was honored in absentia by an empty chair on stage where the ceremony took place.

"This prize conveys the understanding that these are universal rights and universal values, they are not Western standards," he added.

His comments were unlikely to placate Beijing, where Communist Party ideologists consider "universal values" to be code words for Western liberalization.

Meanwhile, back in China, the winner of China's newly created counter Nobel, the Confucius, was also a no show. But that was deliberate.

It was meant to be China's answer to the Nobel Peace Prize, a timely riposte to the honouring of jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo. But the winner of the first "Confucius Peace Prize" didn't even bother to show up.

Instead, it was left to a scared-looking girl, whom organisers did not properly identify, to collect a stack of bills for the $15,000 cash prize meant for former Taiwan vice-president Lien Chan.

Lien had won the prize for his efforts to improve relations between China and Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own, beating out five other nominees, including past Nobel Peace Prize winners Mahmoud Abbas and Nelson Mandela.

Better luck next year.