Chen Weihua

Time now to revise your resume

By Chen Weihua (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-14 07:40
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With former Microsoft China head Tang Jun in the spotlight for allegedly getting a fake doctorate from a dubious American university - and not, as he is known, for his business acumen - some officials and business executives may want to revise their resumes now.

News reports show this has happened quietly in the past days on Wikipedia and in publishing houses.

First and foremost among these should be Tang's Chinese alumni at the Pacific Western University, widely known as a diploma mill.

Of course, Tang and his alumni, some in prominent positions, could choose to describe how rigorous their study was at the Pacific Western. They could even call up professors at their alma mater as witnesses to their hard work. But this is unlikely to happen.

If Tang, now president and CEO of Xin Hua Du Industrial Group Co, is as smart as he is business savvy, he should opt to tell the truth as quickly as possible instead of fighting a doomed battle with Fang Zhouzi, who exposed this sham. Fang has 81 percent of the netizens on his side, according to a poll.

Tang may soon realize that people are not so outraged at his faked educational background - a mistake he made years ago - as they are by his continued refusal to speak the truth.

In a society where academic degrees are faked and bought by a large number of officials and businessmen, Tang may well ask: "Why me?"

The answer is clear: The wrongs of many others do not justify his misdeed. This is especially true of someone who likes to portray himself as a role model for aspiring youngsters.

Tang's case is shocking. Equally astounding is the rationale offered by some of Tang's supporters, who argue that it is fine for him to make such a mistake as long as his admirable business success is real.

This is a reflection of moral degradation in our society, where integrity often trumps economic interests in judging individuals.

Integrity is crucial for every government official and business leader. Otherwise, why should the public trust the institutions and corporations that they represent?

Tang is getting excessive heat simply because of his fame as China's highest paid professional manager and many other laurels. In addition, public anger at the flood of fake diplomas in the hands of crooked businessmen and officials has finally found an outlet in this case.

Those who bought diplomas may also want to vent their anger at Tang for revealing their little secrets. They did not go to any class, do any homework and write papers. Nevertheless, they received a doctorate or master's degree by paying off universities or fake diploma peddlers. And now, their careers are at risk because of Tang. His case should be the start to a crusade on fake and watered-down academic degrees.

Statistics show that in a matter of 30 years, China has achieved a great leap forward, overtaking the United States as the country with the most number of educational institutions granting doctorates. It has the largest enrollment of doctoral students each year as well.

To some extent this is like saying that the country as a whole has become somewhat of a diploma mill. About half of those who have received their doctorates are working for government departments, where higher academic degrees help them swiftly climb the bureaucratic ladder.

If there is an overheated sector, it is not the red-hot property market, but our educational system that is supplying the country with excessive numbers of mediocre master's degrees and doctorates.

The crusade on fake or watered-down academic degrees is vital to restore the trust and credibility that is increasingly lacking in our society. It should not stop at Tang Jun.