Tuesday, December 11, 2007

An Open Letter Supporting Fang Zhouzi

In the summer of 2006, as a response to Professor Xiao Chuanguo's lawsuit and his open letter, another open letter was circulating the internet collecting signature to support Fang Zhouzi. The letter was drafted by Yush, and eventually signed by 601 intellectuals both in China and abroad. By the rule, all signatures are supposed to be real names, accompanied by their work address.

Later, Xiao Chuanguo hired a couple of law firms in China to "investigate and seek prosecution" of the letter signatories. To date, this has been shown as an empty threat.

The original Chinese version of this open letter, along with the signatories, can be read here. The English version is once again provided by Yush:

Recently, the first-instance judgment was made at Jianghan District Court of Wuhan City in the defamation lawsuit of Xiao Chuan-Guo against Sohu Information Technology Inc., the University Press of Peking Union Medical College, and Fang Shi-min. This judgment was astonishing that it was evidently partial to the plaintiff while disregarding the facts. We, Chinese intellectuals around the world who have been paying attention to this lawsuit in which the court intervened an action against academic misconducts, would like to express our opinions to the public in this open letter and also to show our support to Dr. Fang Shi-min, a well-known whistleblower against academic misconducts in China, who should have been protected by law.

The lawsuit was launched after Dr. Fang Shi-min, in his well-known pen name Fang Zhou-Zi, published an essay entitled “Academician Candidate Straddles Two Boats” during the period the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) solicited public comments on its 2005 candidate list. In the essay, Fang presented solid evidence and charged Dr. Xiao Chuan-Guo, then a CAS academician candidate, with a series of dishonest and unethical activities, including lying in his work experience and his overseas job title, as well as exaggerating his publication record, academic awards and research achievements, etc. Subsequently, Xiao filed the defamation lawsuit against Fang, the newspaper who published the essay and the internet media who interviewed Fang. In the first trial, Fang lost the case and was ordered to apologize publicly and to pay compensation to Xiao.

We believe that it is legitimate for Dr. Fang to criticize and question the qualifications of Xiao as a CAS candidate; it is purely academic criticism and media monitoring; it fits perfectly into the goal of the CAS to encourage the public to monitor its member selection process by publishing the candidate list; it is also a fundamental right for a Chinese citizen to express his opinions on public issues.

We believe that Dr. Fang plays an irreplaceable and positive role by fighting against academic corruptions which are increasingly widespread and serious in China nowadays while no official mechanism really enforces academic integrity and punishes the violators.

We believe that Jianghan District Court of Wuhan City has damaged the dignity of the law by disregarding the abundant evidence provided by the defendants that clearly shows Xiao’s academic misconducts, calling a stag a horse, and calling black white.

We believe that the judgment made by Jianghan District Court of Wuhan City on this case would embolden the academic fabricators, ruining the efforts of the Chinese authorities in improving the academic supervision mechanism and curbing academic corruptions.

Finally, we appeal to superior judicial authorities and relevant organizations to pay close attention to and to investigate into the obviously wrongful judgment and the role of local protectionism in this lawsuit, so as to set a good precedent for judicial bodies to judge cases involving academic misconducts and frauds.

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