The True Cost of Becoming an Academician
Zhang Shuguang, a former deputy chief engineer of the now dissolved Ministry of Railways facing 13 corruption charges, testified last week that he took bribes to help him secure a perk-laden membership in the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Hao Xin at ScienceInsider explains how Zhang was selected to run by rail minister Liu Zhijun, who wanted a man on the inside of the influential body:
According to Century Weekly, businessmen seeking ministry contracts learned of Zhang’s nomination and offered to help. That year, the magazine detailed, Zhang, using a slush fund provided by the businessmen, cloistered 30 experts from mostly ministry-affiliated universities and research institutes in a hotel for 2 months, during which time they churned out three books on high-speed rail technology that were credited to Zhang. That burst of authorship didn’t quite put Zhang over the top in the elections: His bid failed by seven votes.
Two years later, Zhang pursued CAS membership with a much larger war chest, according to his court testimony. He hired ghostwriters to produce more volumes on his behalf and invited voting-eligible CAS members on all-expenses-paid tours of the high-speed rail system, lavishing them with gifts, according to Century Weekly. Zhang nearly pulled it off that time: He fell one vote shy of election. A source tells ScienceInsider that Zhang’s membership might have succeeded if not for an impassioned speech by an influential academician who derided Zhang’s credentials just before the final round of voting. In court last week, official state media reported, Zhang pleaded guilty to taking bribes, almost half of which were for his CAS membership bids. [Source]
See more on academic ethics in China via CDT.