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.


Anonymous said...

Shi's return is good for Tsinghua however he should never claim himself as a moral icon. A person changed nationality has no right to educate home country's students to be patronastic.

Anonymous said...

Is one not allowed to take time for the transition between institutions? Are transitions supposed to be that easy and clean??? As stated in the blog, Shi is clearly 100% committed to Tsinghua. Should he show no concern for his current personal in the states and kick them to the curb? Would it not be of greater integrity to allow them some time to make their critical career transitions as well??? I believe in upholding issues of integrity, but this accusation is pretty ridiculous.

Eddie Cheng said...

The issue was not whether Professor Shi could be allowed to have a "transition period", but that he had received a research grant which has a specific rule against recipients within such a "transition period". Therefore, it is reasonable to question whether Professor Shi had not properly disclosed his status when he applied for the grant.

Anonymous said...

Fang, Zhouzi is such a jerk - he twisted the words Yigong was saying in his article. Yigong has a very strong personal belief and a pure Patriotism - he came back home to help Tsinghua and China. Shame on those who criticizes his motives. Yigong deserves our full respect.

Anonymous said...

To: Eddie Cheng
First I believe the Chinese National Natural Sceince Foundation should change its rule. NIH gives out millions of $$$ to non-US scientists in grants like K99/R00 etc. I also believe it is the flexibility of the rules of Chinese funding agency that led to the final approval of the grant, instead of the "forgery"!
Second, explain to me why a Chinese American cannot teach patriotism to the student?? Dr. Shi's return from Princeton to China is a strong testmony to the love of his motherland! Chinese government should change its law to allow dual citizenship!
Third, simply because of some outdated regulations, rules and stupid laws, Fang et al played this game too far!!

And this makes us disgusting!!

Anonymous said...

no prof. shi yigong did not step over the line. if you want to know why, you even said he offered to expl why but you refused to hear. whats the problem?

Eddie Cheng said...

Professor Shi Yigong offered to explain in private to Dr. Fang Zhouzi, not me. Fang Zhouzi's stand is that a public criticism deserves a public response. To this day, Shi Yigong has not offered any explanation in public. If he has one, I sure would be glad to hear it.

Mung Chiang said...

On citizenship, if Shi Yigong is still a US citizen, he's still under the oath he willingly took himself that sworn allegiance to the United States of America and willingness to bear arms to defend the USA. Probably it's better for him to change his allegiance back to the People's Republic of China, like what Rao Yi did upon returning to China, before teaching a course on Patriotism in PRC.

On grant application, if it takes time to transit between Princeton and Tsinghua, Shi Yigong should have waited till after the transition period when he becomes eligible to apply. Alternatively, he could have immediately turned into Professor Emeritus rather than taking a leave of absence, which would have qualified him for this grant in China while allowing him to smoothly transit out of Princeton. He chose to do neither, and the grant agency chose to bend its own rule.

Anonymous said...

Good day everyone.

I read the pro & cons on Shi yigong but it make no differences to me who is right or wrong.

Ok, let me begin with myself. I am an oversea chinese & I dont know anything about Shi until I read about him in our local website,

a very controversy one, very political, too whereby the website master is a fugitive, yes, a fugitive.

Somewhere in the comment in the forum a remark of Shi was made that he went back to China.

I said to myself, OMG, that he return back to China!!
(VERY wai dai person = cantonese)

Many ppl in the world will be willing to give an arm or a leg to get to US of A but not him instead he left.

Well, to me, it is one of the great thing a chinese can do for his own ancestor country.

I as an old oversea chinese wishes I can do that by contributing to our ancestor country.

So what the hell is wrong with Shi returning back to China to contribute, eh???

So what if he is still an US citizen??

Does that mean he is no longer of chinese race, eh?? or has he change his skin color??

A Chinese is a Chinese, borned a Chinese, die as a Chinese.
You can change anything but not your race.
Old Chinese saying:
"Remember the source of the water when you drink the water"

Being Patriotic, he return like a prodigy' son.
I wish all chinese whether mainland or otherwise who can contribute returns either temporary or permanent.

It doesn't matter what is his ulterior motive for returning but what his action counts.

The key statement is, we are all the "descendant of the dragon emperor" = "loong tic chung yan"

We all the chinese must not be the "sick man of Asia anymore"

We must contribute to the well being of China, directly or indirectly.

But of course if you are a citizen of another country, your LOYALTY MUST be of that country
but that should not stop you from contributing to your anscestor country.

Beside China is not at war with country, beside as a matter of fact my country is on a very friendly terms with China.

In fact, Our former prime minister has relatives in the Hainan Island who are Hainanese.

I have "seen" enough and a lot more of China' Bashers in the internet.

So do you as a Chinese want to see us, Chinese being bash left & right until kingdom comes since the bloody days of the Qing Dynasty?? eh???

So, why arguing over his return to China to contribute, eh???

Instead it should be welcoming him back.

Hip, hip Hooray, Hip, hip Hooray, Hip, hip Hooray.

Like I said before I dont know anything about Shi
but I fully support any Chinese returning to contribute & giving up all the "goodies" in US of A.

Last but not least:

Zhong Guo wan sui wan sui wan sui wan wan sui.

Anonymous said...

you can take your broken english and shove up your ass!