Sunday, January 4, 2009

Shi Yigong Becomes a Media Star in China

A few days into the new year, a media blitz unfolded in China in praise of Tsinghua Professor Shi Yigong. It involves the official Xinhua News Agency, CCTV, People's Daily, Guangming Daily, and Economics Daily, i.e., all the heavy weights under the direct control of the central government. The Economics Daily cited Shi Yigong's claim that "Returning home country to work, I feel my career has more meaning". Guangming Daily listed three personal goals from Shi Yigong himself. People's Daily priasied Shi Yigong as the model for all returning oversea Chinese scholars. The syndicated media campaign for a scientist is quite unusual. It looks like Shi Yigong is being molded into the new patriotic hero of China.

None of the media reports mentioned the controvercy of Shi Yigong's grant application and subsequet approval. With all the praise for his patriotism, they did not bother to point out that Shi Yigong is, in fact, an American citizen.

What they did mention, however, was the fact that Shi Yigong has been a recipent of the Irving Sigal Young Investigator Award, billed as "one of the most prestigous awards in biology". In reality, the award is a common one aimed for young scientists.

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