Academic Corruption Undermines China's Technological Success

from the how-many-engineers-per-year? dept

Earlier this week, a top Chinese researcher resigned when it was revealed that he had faked research, and that a breakthrough chip of his was a fraud. This coincides with the results of a new study showing rampant research fraud among the ranks of China’s top academics. A government study, which looked at 180 PhD candidates, found that 60% had engaged in some form of plagiarism or bribery. This isn’t the first time there have been warnings of this nature. All of this casts some doubt on the idea that the US is falling dangerously behind academically, and that we can’t keep up with the vast number of engineers that the China churns out every year. It also suggests that companies may regret poorly thought out development of new global R&D centers, just as other forms of outsourcing have proved costly. This is not to say that companies shouldn’t go global to find talent, or that the gains in science and technology in China haven’t been staggering, but the hype should be tempered with reality, and at the moment the Chinese academic system has some problems to work out.

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Comments on “Academic Corruption Undermines China's Technological Success”

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Joe Smith says:

Chinese domestic use

China may be training lots of engineers but most of those engineers will be absorbed for domestic needs. China still needs lots of infrastructure which all needs to be designed by engineers.

Ten years ago, people thought software development would move to Russia because of the large pool of good mathematicians available at low wages. It did not happen. The same is likely to be the case with concerns about technical jobs fleeing to India or China.

Greg says:


I am by all means not an expert on this. But the impression I got when visiting china is a sort of attitude that you need to make money no matter what rules need to be broken.

From the street vendors selling duck and promoting it with pictures of donald duck (i’m sure disney has no donald duck brand duck meat), to the fake KFC, to the fake clothing and electronics, poor construction methods and building materials (very little for building codes or enforcement).. all the way up to education.

This is much different than here where (usually) people play by the rules and laws and where quality and being the best carries a lot more weight.

Techie (user link) says:


China’s economy is growing very quickly, too quickly. This includes the technology sector too. Key supporting infrastructures like the education system and political system can’t keep up. So we see examples of corruption in almost all areas.

But the government is slowly addressing these issues. Despite recent news of censorship of the Chinese Internet, China as a whole has already come a long way. It is a much more “free” society than before. People buy condos and watch American movies just like many other places. On a day to day level, it is hardly noticeable that it is a “communist” nation. The country is actively trying to solve rampant software piracy and other “negative” issues. For it’s own economic interests, I definitely see China becoming more “democratic”. Only then will such a society support a booming economy.

dorpus says:

Foreign "engineers"

Most “engineers” in China/India have the equivalent of a community college education, learning which valves to turn in a factory. The real geniuses are expected to study in America (and maybe not come back). The Asian geniuses occasionally make high-profile returns to their country, but they get hampered by the backward, rigidly hierarchical, unethical systems in their home countries, so they quietly move back to America a year or two later.

In most Asian classrooms, asking questions is considered “bad manners” — you are supposed to just accept whatever the teacher says. The same mentality carries over into the workplace, where the boss’s word is the word of God. Chinese workplaces/universities are either ruled by this rigid hierarchy (if they have a strong leader), or a free-for-all Machiavellian environment where nobody talks to each other and they cheat as much as possible. In other cases (like Japan or India), everyone wants to avoid “hurt feelings”, so everyone agrees to be mediocre/wrong together.

Not to say that American workplaces are always the best — plenty of workplace bullying here, along with a lot of spinning wheels in the mud over “global competitiveness” or whatever. The “global competitiveness” rhetoric is often used as an excuse to treat employees poorly while bosses give themselves big salaries.

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