According to Global Times . cn (recent late article ) – Source GlobalTimes.cn – ‘Credibility crisis’ forces elite to update CVs

Jia Cheng, Zhu Shanshan and Zhao Zhijie contributed to this story

Fang Zhouzi (left) accused Tang Jun of fakery

Fang Zhouzi (left) accused Tang Jun of fakery

Dozens of Chinese high-level professionals are reportedly scrambling to revise their online resumes following a recent row over the diploma authenticity of a renowned Chinese entrepreneur, creating a chilling effect that what analysts are calling a “credibility crisis” in the country.

Tang Jun, former president of Microsoft China, had been accused of faking his academic credentials in his autobiography, in which he claims to hold a doctorate diploma in computer science from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) from 1990.

Criticizing Tang was Fang Zhouzi, who is well known as a staunch opponent of academic misconduct. Fang claimed that Tang’s name wasn’t on the list of CaltTech graduates that year.

Tang responded by saying that he actually graduated from Pacific Western University (PWU), not CalTech, in 1995, and the official custodian of academic records for PWU from 1997 to 2005, Dr. S. Foster, confirmed Sunday to the Global Times by e-mail the authenticity of Tang’s diploma.

“In regards to Jun Tang, we can confirm that he earned and received his PhD degree in electrical engineering from Pacific Western University in 1993,” Foster said.

But Fang hit back, noting that US authorities closed down PWU in 2006 for being a diploma mill.

PWU sold its assets in 2005 to a new ownership group that opened California Miramar University (CMU) in San Diego, California, in November 2005, according to Foster.

Neither PWU nor CMU were on California’s list of qualified higher education institutions that was updated by the Chinese Ministry of Education on June 1.

And US education authorities don’t recognize diplomas from either PWU or CMU.

Richard Bensberg, managing director of the Beijing-based Red Flag Screening Company, which specializes in checking the authenticity of CVs that job applicants submit to their prospective companies, also told the Global Times Sunday that PWU was considered a diploma mill in the US.

“Some of our clients used to authorize us to check the authority of PWU, and based on our research, the university is not approved by the US Department of Education, and it was sued by the government of Hawaii earlier for issuing illegal education degrees,” Bensberg said.

The credential controversy heated up Saturday when a list of PWU graduates appeared online, listing the names and jobs of more than 100 graduates, almost half of whom are mainland business executives who claim doctorial degrees from PWU.

A man on the list, who is the general manager of a prominent investment company based in Beijing, and who asked to remain anonymous, defended Tang.

“Fang didn’t even try to understand how the university system works in the US before he threw all this criticism on us,” he said.

The man told the Global Times Sunday that he went to the US in 2001 and spent $10,000 in tuition fees on 16 business administration classes organized by PWU, and he was awarded a doctorate in business administration by the university in 2003.

“I wrote a thesis before graduation, and my degree was authorized by the Ministry of Education after I came back to China,” the man said.

The accuracy of the list could be also questioned since many of the graduates on the list cannot be found in the companies they reportedly work for.

“All these are false accusations,” Tang told China National Radio on Tuesday. Tang’s secretary, Li Xin, confirmed on Wednesday that Tang was planning to sue Fang, though no timetable was given.

Yuan Xinwen, independent director of the Xinhuadu Industrial Group, where Tang has served as apresident since 2008, said Saturday that if Tang was proven to have gotten his doctorate degree from a bogus college, disciplinary action would be taken.

Chain reaction

The verbal battle prompted Mengniu, a leading maker of dairy products, to issue a notice to the press Friday night, saying Ding Sheng, one of its executive directors, hadn’t actually received a master’s degree from Tianjin Nankai University.

In its annual report in 2009, Ding was profiled as a post-graduate holding a master of business administration degree.

In a separate report, the Legal Mirror newspaper said Thursday that more than 100 celebrities from entertainment, business and academic circles have rushed to update their profiles on Hudongbaike and Baidubaike, Chinese versions of Wikipedia.

Wu Zhen, chairman of Sun Media Investment Holdings, also reportedly got his a degree from a diploma mill in the US, people.com.cn reported.

Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociologist at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that the credibility crisis is prevailing in Chinese society, noting that it’s inexcusable to fake credentials to gain an advantage.

“In many Western countries, companies will lose the trust of shareholders and the public if they hire somebody who lies on their CV, especially those who work at the CEO level.

“I hope Tang Jun’s case can help improve the human resource system in China in a positive way,” Bensberg said.

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