Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rao Yi: Chinese Culture Lacks Professionalism

During an interview with the newspaper Science Times (科学时报), Professor Rao Yi described his experience after returning from overseas and his vision for Peking University.

When asked about difficulties and challenges he had encountered in China, Rao Yi observes:
Chinese culture lacks professionalism [Rao used the English word here]. There is no formal translation for this word, because there is not yet such a concept in Chinese culture.

There is also a lack of intellectual [again, Rao used the English word here] atmosphere in China's academia. This word ["intellectual"] has been mis-translated in Chinese for a long time. The reason is also that there is no such concept in Chinese culture. It ["intellectual"] should be an activity that is higher than knowledge itself. [In China,] people work on science purely for the purpose to be better than the next person, to publish more papers. They don't exchange ideas and talk about their research only when they are ready to publish. It is not only being selfish (小家子气), but also an indication that they are not doing as an intellectual pursuit. There are also people who never come to scientific discussions. For them, research is clearly just a job, not an intellectual pursuit. This is very common in China.
Perhaps fearing for controversy, Science Times deleted this paragraph when it published this interview. However, the complete version of the interview is also widely available on internet in China.

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