China / Hot Issues

Tobacco expert appointment ignites protest

By Zheng Xin (China Daily) Updated: 2012-05-31 08:08

A row over the appointment of a Chinese tobacco scientist to a prestigious academy intensified this week when almost 100 leading thinkers signed a letter protesting the move.

Xie Jianping, deputy director of China National Tobacco Corp's Zhengzhou Tobacco Research Institute, was accepted into the Chinese Academy of Engineering in December 2011. His research specializes in refining low-tar cigarettes.

Other academicians have criticized his appointment and sent several open letters to the academy in protest.

The third appeal, sent this week, was signed by scientists and scholars in health, medicine, engineering, agriculture, environment and textiles.

"The review process is flawed," Yang Jie, deputy director of tobacco control for the Chinese Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Wednesday.

"It doesn't make sense that (Xie's) review was done by the environment and textile engineering department, instead of the health and medicine department, as Xie claims the technology he developed reduces the hazards (of smoking), which is not true."

Speaking at a Health Ministry news conference on Wednesday ahead of World No Tobacco Day, Zhong Nanshan, a Chinese Academy of Engineering member and one of the leading figures behind this week's joint letter, said: "The academy should solve the problem as soon as possible."

An academy spokesman was unavailable for comment when contacted by China Daily on Wednesday.

Xie is not the first person to represent the tobacco industry in the academic body, which advises the government.

Zhu Zunquan, who is considered a leader in tobacco science and technology in China, was elected by the Chinese Academy of Engineering for his tobacco research and technologies including winter tobacco planting, tobacco alternatives and low-tar cigarettes, which are said to have helped the industry prosper in the country.

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