Plagiarism and Xi Jinping

Did China’s Supreme Leader plagiarize his PhD thesis?

Xi Jinping, now China's president and supreme leader, allegedly plagiarized passages of his doctoral thesis, which he submitted to Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2001, according to Joe Chung, a best-selling Hong Kong author who published his allegations in Chinese on a website, thehousenews.com in August. While speculation has been rife for years, Chung appears to have provided documentation. Some scholars think the whole document was written by someone else.

Xi is China's first leader to hold a doctorate degree. According to his biography on Wikipedia, he studied chemical engineering at Tsinghua University in Beijing. From 1998 to 2002, he studied Marxist theory and ideological education in an "on-the-job" post-graduate program at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, again at Tsinghua University, and obtained a Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree.

There is speculation that the leaking of the dissertation, titled "A Tentative Study on China's Rural Marketization" and published by the People's Publishing House, was done to embarrass Xi at a crucial time - the run-up to the trial of the disgraced neo-Maoist former Chongqing governor, Bo Xilai, who was sentenced last weekend to life imprisonment. There are other allegations that Xi used others, in particular a subordinate, Liu Huiyu, to write the dissertation. And while Xi won't suffer anything more than embarrassment, for journalists and academicians plagiarism can end a career. Liu was contacted for this article but declined comment. Her academic career progressed rapidly after the document was published. She is now a professor and associate dean of Jiangxia University in Fujian.

Other critics say Tsinghua University granted the degree, which appears to have little to do with legal affairs, to give a prestigious boost up the political ladder to an obvious future Communist Party star.

The following is an analysis of segments of the thesis, in which whole passages are copied from other books or publications without attribution. For example, on the first page of the preface is a paragraph copied from the Communist Party Central Committee Statement on Major Issues in Agriculture and Rural Work, published by the 15th Central Committee of Communist Party of China in October 1998.

Here are the two paragraphs, which differ by only a few words, both translated into English by Stephen Thompson.

The Dissertation
Since the introduction of the policy of reform and opening, through the implementation of the household contract responsibility system, abolition of the communes and breaking up the planned economic model, China has built a basic rural institutional framework adapted to requirements of the development of market economy, greatly liberating and developing productive forces in rural areas; rural economic development has entered a new phase: substantial growth in food and other agricultural products; we have basically solved the problem of feeding the whole nation; township enterprises have risen meteorically, promoting the rural industrial structure, employment structure change and development of small towns, opening up a route to rural modernization with Chinese characteristics; farmers' living standards have markedly improved and rural areas nationally have overall moved from subsistence to a stage of moderate prosperity.

CPC Central Committee Statement on Major Issues in Agriculture and Rural Work
Rural reform has already gone through two decades of glorious history. Implementation of the household contract responsibility system, abolition of the people's communes, breaking up the planned economic model, China has built a basic new rural institutional framework adapted to the requirements of the development of the socialist market economy. This fundamental reform has liberated and developed the productive forces in the rural areas and rural economic and social development has brought historic changes: significant increase in grain and other agricultural products, from long-term shortage to a rough balance and harvest surplus, and basically solved the national people's food problem; township enterprises have risen meteorically, promoting rural industrial structure, employment structure change and development of small towns, opening up a route to rural modernization with Chinese characteristics; farmers' living standards have markedly improved and the rural areas nationally have overall moved from subsistence to a stage of moderate prosperity.

On page 60 is another example, this time the paragraph was lifted from page 61 of Operation and Development of China's Economy, published by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 1995

Here are the two paragraphs in question, which again differ only by a word here or there:

The dissertation
Industrialization and rural marketisation in agricultural is the hotbed of which gives birth to industry, it is the basic source of nourishment nurturing industry, it is the food, raw materials, labor and capital necessary for the development of industry, which has to rely on agriculture to provide these things. Especially in the early and middle period of industrialization, surplus accumulation provided by agriculture for industry determines the scale and pace of industrial development. Industrial development gradually reduces its dependence on agriculture with its growing capacity for independent development, and in the national economy, gradually replaces it in the dominant position, but no matter how industry progresses, as long as human beings continue to be animals requiring nourishment, you can not sever the dependency of industry on agriculture.

Operation and Development of China's Economy
The dependence of agriculture on industry: agricultural is the hotbed of which gives birth to industry, it is the basic source of nourishment nurturing industry. Agriculture surplus accumulation determines the scale and speed of industrial development. The location of agricultural economic activities decides the location of industrial economic activity, particularly where agricultural products are the main raw material required for regional industrial activities, such as in the food industry and textile industry. As industrialization advances, its ability for independent development gradually increases, and dependence on agriculture gradually weakens. Agriculture in the national economy gradually gives way to industrial dominance. But no matter how industry progresses, as long as human beings continue to be animals requiring nourishment, industry can not sever the dependence of industry on agriculture.

Possible Ghostwriting
In addition to these examples, there are numerous passages which are similar or identical to work published by Liu Huiyu, a junior academic who was a subordinate of Xi's in his professional life during his PhD study, (which he completed while in full time work). Some suspect Liu ghostwriting Xi's entire thesis.

There follow five examples, (this time with translations followed by the original Chinese), from the student's dissertation, which was published in 2001 with the English title: A Tentative Study on China's Rural Marketisation, (sic), abbreviated below to Study, and a book by Liu Huiyu, her 2002 Globalisation and China's Agricultural Development, abbreviated below to Development. Although the publication date of Liu's book postdates Xi's dissertation, her book, dated January 2001 predates his work's publication)

Example 1, from the student's "Study", page 80
Tariff concessions and reduction of non-tariff barriers to trade which are not conducive to protection of China's agricultural trade.

For a long time, throughout the world, countries have attached great importance to trade protection for domestic agricultural products, but most countries, especially developed Western countries, are using tariff trade measures and the "green box policy" permitted by the WTO Agricultural Framework Agreement to protect agriculture and agricultural trade, while in China, we mainly depend on import licenses, import quotas and other non-tariff measures to regulate agricultural imports. For example, the single agency for grain import and export trade, which is a continuation of the traditional planning management system. After joining the WTO, since agricultural tariffs can only be reduced and can not be increased, and since in China most agricultural product prices were reduced below international prices in the period 1986-88, tariffs after tariffication are negative, so we can not use trade rules regulation tariffication methods to protect the domestic market. In addition, many non-tariff methods are prohibited, so that China can not use traditional methods to protect the domestic agricultural market, and can only investigate the green box policy methods which are are unfamiliar and which to some extent we lack conditions to employ, leaving China's agricultural goods market in a non-advantageous position.

From Liu Huiyu's "Development" pp161-2
Tariff concessions and reduction of non-tariff barriers to trade which are not conducive to protection of China's agricultural trade.

For a long time, throughout the world, countries have attached great importance to trade protection for domestic agricultural products, but most countries, especially developed Western countries, are using tariff trade measures and the "green box policy" permitted by the WTO Agricultural Framework Agreement to protect agriculture and agricultural trade, while in China, we mainly depend on ISl import licenses, import quotas and other non-tariff measures to regulate agricultural imports. For example, the single agency for grain import and export trade. After joining the WTO, since agricultural tariffs can only be reduced and can not be increased, and since in China most agricultural product prices were reduced below international prices in the period 1986-88, tariffs after tariffication are negative, so we can not use trade rule regulation tariffication methods to protect the domestic market. In addition, since many non-tariff methods are prohibited, China can not use traditional methods to protect the domestic agricultural market, and can only investigate the green box policy methods which are are unfamiliar and which we to some extent lack conditions to employ, leaving China's agricultural goods market in a non-advantageous position.

Example Two From Xi's study, pp 80-81
It is possible to make the problems encountered in rural marketisation even more evident. First, the vast majority of farmers are operating in a decentralized, dispersed state, their cultural and technological levels are not high, they know little about the market economy itself and have difficulty adapting to the requirements of the domestic market competition after WTO accession, they know little about the constantly changing and highly competitive international market, or how to compete with farmers in Western countries who have higher cultural levels and superior technology, large areas under mechanized operations, low production costs, good product quality and low prices, which will make them face greater market risks. Secondly, after joining the WTO, the domestic market and agricultural inputs market must adapt to international market practice, and deal with the unified international market place, which with over a hundred years of history is improving every day, and this will expose even more the failings of our domestic agricultural produce market in which poor coordination between government departments and administrative regions resulting in separation of trade from industry and agriculture has caused supply and demand to be disjointed.

From Liu's Development pp 161-2
It is possible to make the problems encountered in rural marketisation even more evident. At present, the vast majority of farmers are operating in a decentralized, dispersed state, their cultural and technological quality levels are not high, they know little about the market economy itself and have difficulty adapting to the requirements of domestic market competition. After WTO accession, they know little about the constantly changing and highly competitive international market, and it is hard for them to compete with farmers in Western countries who have higher cultural levels and superior technology, large areas under mechanized operations, low production costs, product quality and low prices. This will cause them to face greater risk in the marketplace, and make it even harder for them to enter the intensely competitive international market place. After joining the WTO, the domestic market market must adapt to the international market and deal with the unified international market place, which with over a hundred years of history is improving every day, and this will expose even more the failings of our domestic agricultural produce market in which poor coordination between government departments and administrative regions resulting in separation of trade from industry and agriculture, regional blockades, excessive and disordered competition has caused supply and demand to be disjointed.

Example 3 From Xi's Study, p102:
Thirdly we must reduce agricultural taxes. In recent years, the four agricultural taxes have tended to increase too quickly, for example in Fujian province, in the year 2000 the taxes came to a total of 1.689 billion., an increase of 12.9 percent compared to 1998; it increased 1% faster than the average for provincial government income.

Of the "four taxes", special produce tax accounted for 860 million, over half the total, which was also high compared to other provinces. When agricultural taxes are high, increase rapidly and where special produce taxes are prominent, not only are exports affected but the development of agricultural infrastructure is too. Agricultural taxes must be reformed and the four taxes must be adjusted, especially the special produce tax.

From Liu's Development (3) Development p 208
We must reduce agricultural taxes. In recent years, the four agricultural taxes have tended to increase too quickly in some places. For example in Fujian province, in 1999 the taxes came to a total of 1.678 billion, an increase of 12.1 percent compared to 1998; they increased 1% faster than the average for provincial government income. Of the "four taxes", special produce tax accounted for 860 million, over half the total, higher compared to the national average proportion of the for the four taxes of 4.3%, Fujian's figure being 5.4%. Agricultural taxes must be reformed and the four taxes must be adjusted, especially the special produce tax.

Example 4 From Xi's Study p102
Fourthly we must establish mechanisms to ensure risk involved in export of agricultural produce and a development fund for the production of agricultural products for export, export risk development fund and reserve fund to provide timely help to the broad mass of peasants and agricultural enterprises and other economic organizations to combat risk they may encounter when they compete in the international agricultural produce market

From Liu's Development 208-9:
(4)(We must) establish an effective safe grain stock system, establish the grain storage system in a rational framework, increase grain safety; establish an agricultural product trade risk system and provide reliable guarantees for the broad mass of peasants and agricultural enterprises and other economic organizations when they compete in the international agricultural produce market.

Example 5. From Xi's Study page 209
Increasing agriculture's cooperation and communication with foreigners, increase their use of foreign investment and advanced technology to promote competivity of agricultural products on the international market. Agricultural cooperation and communication with foreigners is an effective policy which can promote the competitiveness of agricultural produce on the international markets with the use of foreign capital and advanced technology. Having joined the WTO, we must get a grip on the following tasks; agricultural cooperation and communication with foreigners: firstly we must grapple with the increasing costs of production and insufficiency of resources which hold back some developed countries and regions, look for opportunities to increase and establish productions bases overseas, increase the efforts of agriculture and commerce to attract investment, actively improve the agricultural investment environment, set the policies for attracting foreign investors in to agriculture appropriate to local conditions, attract foreign business to come to our country to invest, open companies and participate in overall development.

From Liu's Development p209
Broadening agricultural cooperation and communication with foreigners, using foreign investment and tech to promote rural marketization, establish agricultural communication and cooperation with foreigners, is an important policy for linking foreign and domestic markets and using both foreign and domestic recources which can continuously promote improvements in the domestic agricultural market and further accelerate the speed of rural marketization. Having joined the WTO, we must get a grip on increasing costs of production and insufficiency of resources which hold back some developed countries and regions, look for opportunities to increase and establish productions bases overseas, actively improve the agricultural investment environment, set the policies for attracting foreign investors in agriculture appropriate to local conditions, attract foreign business to come to invest, open companies and participate in overall development.

Citation Plagiarism
To embellish the work, Xi, or his stand-in, allegedly also copied citations from other academic works. Unfortunately for him, in some cases this was rather obvious, because he copied the citations complete with spelling mistakes and typographical errors, for example in references numbered 100, 103, 106, 108 and 121, which were almost certainly copied from a clumsy English translation of D. Gale Johnson's "Agricultural Adjustment in China: Problems and Prospects", first published in 2000 Chinese in the mainland academic journal 江淮论坛. The spelling mistakes and capitalization errors in these citations are identical to those in the translation:

[100] Gimpel, Jean(1997), The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution in Middle Ages. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
(The correct name for this work is The Medieval Machine: The Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages)
[106] Hayami, Yujiro and vernon W.Ruttan(1986), Agricultural Development: An International Perspective. Rev. Ed. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.)
(Vernon has not been capitalized)
[108] Boserup, Ester(1965), The Conditions of Argicultural Growth: The Economics of Agrarian Change Under Population Pressure. Chicago: Aldine.
(Agriculture has been misspelt as Argicultural)
[121] Lin, Justin Yifu(1988), "The Household Responsibility System in china's Agricultural reforms: A Theoretical and Empirical Study," Economic Development and Cultural Change.Vol.36,pp.199-224.
(china's Agricultural reforms should be written China's Agricultural Reform)
Citation no. 103 is a particularly clumsy example of plagiarism in which two academic works have been mistakenly cited as a single work, copying exactly the same error in the Chinese translation of Gale's work :
[103] Martin, Will and Devashish Metra(1993), "Technical Progress in Agriculture and Manufacturing." Mimeo. World Bank. Ministry of Agriculture(MA 1992), China Agricultural Yearbook. Beijing: Agricultural Publishing House
They should have been cited separately as follows:
1) Martin, Will and Devashish Mitra (1993),"Technical Progress in Agriculture and Manufacturing." Mimeo. World Bank. Ministry of Agriculture(MA 1992)
2) China Agricultural Yearbook. Beijing: Agricultural Publishing House, in Johnson, "Agricultural Adjustment in China: Problems and Prospects
These and other citation errors first appeared in a clumsy English translation of Johnson's "Agricultural Adjustment in China: Problems and Prospects published in Chinese academic journal in 2000. D. Gale Johnson died in 2002.

(Stephen Thompson is a full-time postgraduate student studying Chinese English Translation at City University in Hong Kong. He is known in the Hong Kong media by his Chinese pen name 唐肆啼 for his critical essays on Chinese culture. )

Comments : Plagiarism and Xi Jinping

  1. H. S. Yung says:

    Xi Jinping studied chemical engineering? That makes me laugh! That is why the Chinese can “engineer” fake soy sauce from human hair, fake eggs made of resin, fake milk powder made of melamine, fake toothpaste made of diethylene glycol (DEG), i.e. antifreeze, fake walnuts made of cement, and (tada!) “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”, a fake socialism which is actually predatory capitalism in disguise. They can virtually “engineer” anything from the level of the mind to the level of matter. And, he obtained a Doctor of Laws (LLD) degree? What kind of law is that? “Laws with Chinese Characteristics”? Studying law in China is like studying mythical creatures, like a dragon, a unicorn, or a Gargoyle. No serious biologists will study those. THEY DO NOT EXIST!

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