Friday, August 22, 2008

Did Beijing Olympics Steal the American Anthem?

There have been many controversies surrounding the operations of the Beijing Olympics. The latest came from this morning's NPR:
The source of the American national anthem being played at the Beijing Olympics during medal ceremonies is in question. Peter Breiner wasn't watching the Games until his friends starting calling to say, "That sounds like your arrangement." It does. Especially the "Rockets Red Glare" section — an unusually soft string rendition that brought some controversy when it was used in Athens in 2004.He got paid for that rendition in 2004. Now Mr. Breiner says he's "100-percent positive" that the Chinese borrowed it from his work. In an email to The Washington Post, the Chinese insist they came up with the arrangement themselves.
The Washington Post has a lengthier report on the same issue, in which it quoted the email as saying "All the anthems and songs used at the Beijing Games were orchestrated by Chinese musicians." It did not appear to address the issue of arrangement.

The Washington Post article expressed pessimism in resolving this issue properly, noting that China "is not a place known for its strict enforcement of copyrights."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

IOC Decides to Investigate Gymnast's Age, Finally

The allegation that the Chinese government has deliberated fielded underage gymnasts in the Beijing Olympics has been brewing ever since the competition started. The International Olympics Committee had been steadfastly refusing to look into the matter, citing a lack of concrete evidences.

Until now.

It seems that the mounting evidence has finally reached the tipping point even for the reluctant IOC, which belatedly decided to launch an investigation. It is still not clear how aggressive and deep the probe is going to be. It is nice to see that for once IOC is not taking the date of birth in a government-issued passport at its face value.

For the record, my own Chinese passport lists my birthday as 10/28/1999. I better grow up fast so I could compete in the Olympics myself!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Did Professor Shi Yigong Step Over the Line?

Professor Shi Yigong, who recently gave up a prestige position at Princeton to return to Tsinghua University, had been making a name for himself in China. Unlike the fellow returnee Professor Rao Yi, Shi Yigong tended to boast a higher personal profile. In an interview on Science Times, he claimed that his return was motivated by a strong patriotic brief. He expressed the desire to teach a new course on patriotism in Tsinghua.

Yet Professor Shi Yigong had already become an American citizen while he was in the United States. It might be quite awkward for him to teach such a course in China.

What's more, his status in Princeton was far from clear. It did not appear that he had simply given up his post as he had claimed. The Princeton University web site listed him simply as "on leave until September 2009", which means that he still maintains a position there.

There was no question that Professor Shi is working full time at Tshinghua right now. But his status at Princeton University brought up a questionable issue in his receiving a research grant from the Chinese National Natural Sceince Foundation. The grant, intended for outstanding young researchers, had a clear requirement for any applicant of non-Chinese citizenship that they should not be holding any position in a foreign institute at the time of their grant application. Professor Shi had clearly violated this rule.

Fang Zhouzi openly raised the issue to the Chinese National Natural Science Foundation, accusing Professor Shi Yigong's alleged forgery in his application. As usual, this ignited a vast controversy. Rao Yi defended his friend, claiming that it usually takes a long time for a professor to make a transition between institutions. But he could not address the issue of the grant directly. Shi Yigong chose to remain silent in public. In private, he offered to talk to Fang Zhouzi with an explanation. Fang Zhouzi declined, insisting on dicussing the issue in public.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Artistic License Running Amok

The biggest forgery committed during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics was apparently with a direct order from a member of the Politburo.

Hijacking The Albert Einstein Award

A couple of weeks ago, a netter reported on New Thread that a suspiciously large number of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners are claiming themselves to be recipients of an "Albert Einstein World Award of Science". Indeed, a simple google search on the "Albert Einstein World Award of Science" in Chinese ("阿尔伯特·爱因斯坦世界科学奖") yielded many such claims:

1985: Zhu Renkan (朱仁康)
1987: Liu QiuFang (刘猷枋)
1987: Tu Youyou (屠呦呦)
1988: Yu Guiqing (余桂清)
1988: Tang Youzhi (唐由之)
1989: Xie Zongwan (谢宗万)
1989: Chen Keji (陈可冀)
1990: Cheng Xinnong (程莘农)

Among them, Chen Keji and Cheng Xinnong are academicians in the Chinese Academy of Science and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, respectively. There are also indications that more people had received this award, all of whom are TCM practioners in the Academy of TCM.

The Albert Einstein World Award of Science is a prestigous award given out annually by The World Cultural Council headquartered in Mexico. A list of its recipents are available on their web site. None of the above names existed.

Fang Zhouzi recently wrote to the World Cultural Council for an inquiry, and received the following reply from its General Secretary, which he posted on New Thread:

(Certainly, there is a misunderstanding regarding this situation. I have already checked, all these people were candidates nominated for the Albert Einstein Award in the respective mentioned years. But none of them got the Award.

I have checked our records and found that, the Council has sent them by post mail in those days, a diploma recognizing their participation as candidates to the Albert Einstein Award in the respective years. I would like to inform you that the winners must receive the Award in person at the Award Ceremony, the Award consist of a Medal a diploma and a cheque.)

Apparently, these distinguished TCM practitioners, including our Academicians, had mistaken a receipt of acknowledgment as an actual award, never mind that they had never received any medal or check.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Dean Lost His Job For Being Not Quite A Ph. D. (And Lied About It)

Last year, a netter with a pseudonym "woodpecker" reported on New Threads that the dean of the College of Environmental Science and Technology in Taiyuan University of Technology (太原理工大学) had fabricated his degree.

Professor Wang Zengzhang (王增长) had studied at the Helsinki University of Technology in Finland from 1994 to 2002. Upon his return, he told his colleagues that he had earned a doctoral degree there. But he never produced a certificate or thesis. According to the report by "woodpecker", someone called the school in Finland and found that Professor Wang actually only earned a Licentiate degree, half way between a Master and a Ph. D.

More than half a year later, another netter reported on New Threads that Taiyuan University of Technology had verified the claim. It stripped Professor Wang's position as a dean and his license to advice Ph. D. students. There was no mention whether he continues to teach in the university.