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Research fraud rampant in China

A Chinese study found that 60 percent of PhD candidates admitted to plagiarism, bribery.

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The stunning revelation of fraud and fakery in the heart of China's R&D industry has vindicated a feisty set of scholars who are gaining traction in exposing a culture of fraud and corruption in China's colleges.

Just days ago authorities revealed that the Hanxin digital signal chip, a so-called "Chinese chip" designed to enhance home-grown computer technology, is not an original. Chen Jin, "father of the Chinese chip," evidently used a product from a foreign firm to win a lucrative bid in 2003 - ironically, to spearhead a much publicized patriotic national drive to create a Chinese super microchip.

For scientists and researchers in China, the Chen case, while embarrassing, is all too typical. Other fraud cases are coming to light that reveal a deeply ingrained habit of plagiarism, falsification, and corruption - widely recognized, but not widely policed or punished in Chinese universities.

It also arrives in the midst of growing concerns about the nature and character of native firms, of exports, and of the contributions to technology and scholarship by China around the world. What has been an irritating and somewhat comical issue about pirated DVDs - has now morphed into a fuller-scale complaint about high-tech intellectual property rights violations. The American Chamber of Commerce Tuesday issues a tough "white paper" on piracy violations and practices in China.

Last week nearly 120 Chinese scientists living in the US wrote an open letter of concern to Ministry of Science officials, arguing that standards of research in China have dipped to such lows, that the country's reputation is on the line. Ironically, the desire to boost China's research reputation, and the pressure that puts on scientists, is partly fueling the corner-cutting.

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