Top academies ban govt officials from membership

Updated: 2015-01-07 15:59


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Top academies ban govt officials from membership

A view of the Chinese Academy of Engineering in Beijing on Jun 11, 2014. [Photo/IC]

Senior government officials have been told to stay away from standing in election for memberships of the country's two leading academies, Beijing News reported on Wednesday.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) announced their new election rules in December, both disqualifying officials above division level from the biennial recruitment, which started on Jan 1, 2015, the report said.

The membership process of the two think tanks became controversial after Zhang Shuguang, former deputy chief engineer of the transport bureau under what was then the ministry of railways - now China Railway Corp –, admitted to spending 23 million yuan ($4.41 million) of the bribes he had received on buying votes to the CAS.

This year's recruitment will be the first since the two institutions amended their charters last June. The new charters have modified the CAE's member nomination and exit mechanisms by depriving governments, universities and enterprises of nomination rights.

Meanwhile, selection of new members now requires a vote by the whole academy, rather than just one of its divisions.

Nominating rights are now limited to incumbent members and academic groups.

Punishment, including losing the right to be nominated for life, will be handed out to those involved in election fraud, including falsified applications and using influence to gain votes, according to the rules of CAE.

Xiong Bingqi, Vice President of China's 21st Century Education Research Center, said the disqualification of senior government officials is a progress in creating fairer selections. He also noted that it is unclear how far the rules will be implemented. The new rules also state that university presidents will also be excluded from the nomination process.

Becoming a CAS or CAE academician, or yuanshi, is considered one of the highest honors for a scientist in China.