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Nobel Peace Prize? Blah. Here's a Bundle of Cash.

As more Chinese become filthy rich, there are more complaints about the 100 RMB bill. The bank note is China's largest paper denomination, and it's only worth $15. The central bank has given a host of reasons why they don't expand to a 500 or a 1000 note, the big one being a fear of counterfeits. But now there's an even better reason: A stack of a thousand of them looks mighty nice when you're trying to compete with the Nobel Peace Prize.

Yesterday, organizers of the 'Confucius Peace Prize' awarded 100,000 RMB ($15,000 USD) to Taiwanese politician Lien Chan. He didn't make it to the ceremony. In fact, when a reporter asked him how he felt beating out Bill Gates, Jimmy Carter, and Nelson Mandela for the prize, Lien said he had no idea he had won it nor what the Confucius prize was. Nobody else did, either. This week, a group of patriotic Chinese who work for government-backed institutions cobbled together a rival peace prize named after China's patron saint; an obvious middle finger to the Nobel committe for awarding its peace prize to Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese political dissident serving time in a government prison. The Confucius Peace Prize was awarded to Lien for his work on strengthening ties between Taiwan and China. It's not clear why he was absent at yesterday's ceremony. Lien told the Taiwanese press he wasn't contacted by anyone affiliated with the prize. In his absence, organizers gave a wad of dirty 100 RMB notes to a random little girl who was identified as the 'angel of peace'. Keep it classy, Beijing.

About the author

Rob Schmitz is Marketplace’s China correspondent in Shanghai.

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