China / Government

Think tank's membership rules amended

By Cui Jia (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-03 07:35

New rules to prevent corruption at China's top think tank mean higher government officials no longer will be nominated as candidates for the Chinese Academy of Sciences, an academic society known for its cutting-edge research projects.

Additionally, candidates' employers and their parent institutions will no longer be allowed to make recommendations. And incumbent academics who accept bribes in such elections will face disciplinary action, including possible dismissal.

The academy said on Saturday that 157 candidates were nominated for election this year and a preliminary review of the candidates had been completed. The academy elects new academics every two years. This year, there are 65 vacancies.

The candidates, who are between the ages of 43 to 74, specialize in fields that include mathematics, physics, and earth and life sciences. Those elected will be subject to the endorsement of a full session of each academy.

Because of access to government-subsidized research projects, academy membership has always been fiercely competitive.

The academy has a staff of more than 50,000. Twelve sub-academies and more than 100 institutes are directly attached to it, and it has about 100 state labs and 212 field stations.

Under new rules, government officials above the division level no longer will be allowed to join the academy. The academy also told its members not to accept gifts to vote for particular candidates or participate in activities or conventions that may affect the fairness of the election process.

Zhang Shuguang, once head of the former ministry of railways' transportation bureau, admitted in court in 2013 during his trial for corruption and misconduct that he paid more than 23 million yuan ($3.7 million) in bribes for his two academy bids in 2007 and 2009.

The academy later issued a statement saying no evidence had been found to support Zhang's accusations, but it vowed to punish anyone involved in such corruption.

Shi Yigong, head of the School of Life Sciences at Tsinghua University, failed to gain an academy seat in 2011. His election as an academic to the US National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences two years later caused public doubt about the fairness of the selection process.

The academy is currently undergoing a complete restructuring program for the subordinate institutes, sorting them into four categories: applied technology for industry; academic research; engineering; and basic research that requires long-term investment. The goal is more efficient management of scientists and research.

(China Daily 08/03/2015 page3)

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