'Elites' accused of fabricating college degrees

By Chen Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-12 07:56
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BEIJING - The resumes of about 100 Chinese "elites" have been revised on Hudong Wiki, a pilot Chinese-language encyclopedia website, after the former president of Microsoft China, Tang Jun, was accused of fabricating his academic credentials.

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"The information about Tang has been changed three times on our website," Beijing News quoted Wu Yanpeng, vice-president of Hudong Wiki, as saying on Saturday.

The statement that "Tang got a doctoral degree from the California Institute of Technology (CIT)" has been deleted, Wu said.

"As for other elites whose data was rewritten on Hudong Wiki, the revisions are mostly about their educational backgrounds and degrees, which have recently become sensitive topics," he said.

However, whether the data was revised by the elites themselves or someone else remains unclear, as Hudong Wiki allows for the free editing of its pages by registered users.

An insider at a public relations company said it is highly possible that these revisions were made by public relations companies.

Since the beginning of this month, Fang Zhouzi, who is known as a "science cop" for battling against pseudo-science and academic misconduct, has been accusing Tang of fabricating a doctoral degree from CIT.

Tang clarified the matter on July 6 by saying that he had never claimed to have graduated from CIT and that he had received his doctorate from California-based Pacific Western University.

But Fang soon pointed out that the first version of Tang's autobiography, My Success Could Be Duplicated, makes those claims and he uploaded the scanned pages onto his blog.

Fang also said Pacific Western University is a "fake and problematic university" that sold credentials.

A report on the website of the US Government Accountability Office shows that Tang's alma mater was once sued for selling degrees: $2,295 for a bachelor's degree, $2,395 for a master's and $2,595 for a doctorate.

Caixin magazine on Wednesday even made public a list of some Chinese who graduated from Pacific Western University.

The list shows that a number of the Chinese "elite" received Doctor of Business Administration degrees from the same institution, including officials, executives, lawyers and judges.

However, Ye Jun, manager of Beijing Zhaorun Investment Company, who also got a PhD from Pacific Western University, told Caixin that he was awarded his diploma after attending two years of classes at Peking University.

He said the teachers were foreign professors, though most classes and dissertation defenses were held in Beijing.

He paid 50,000 yuan ($7,350) to an agency for his diploma seven years ago. The agency has since been closed.

However, the international cooperation department at Peking University denied it had any affiliation with Pacific Western University, according to a report by the Chengdu Evening News on Sunday.