Publisher dismisses online plagiarism charges

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 February, 2008, 12:00am

The publisher for the chief of the mainland's top environmental watchdog has dismissed plagiarism allegations circulating on the internet against Zhou Shengxian , saying the accusations are politically motivated.

Xu Guang, a book editor from Xinhua Publishing House, which published Mr Zhou's book, Opportunities and Choices - An In-depth Reflection on the Songhua River Incident, said it was compiled with care. The book received rave reviews and has been hailed as 'an awe-inspiring book on environmental protection' since its December release, but mainland internet users quickly accused Mr Zhou of stealing from others.

One posting quotes a paragraph resembling a Southern Metropolis News story in June last year.

Another entry said the book was flawed because it omitted some facts to bolster the image of Mr Zhou, who took over as director of the State Environmental Protection Administration two years ago and is a rising political star tipped to head up the Ministry of Energy in a looming reshuffle.

For instance, Mr Zhou made little reference to contributions from his predecessor, Xie Zhenhua , a respected veteran environmentalist, who resigned in December 2005 after a massive pollution spill in the Songhua River a month earlier.

Mr Xie was widely credited with pushing through a State Council document in 2005 that led to a strengthening of environmental protection.

Challenges to the integrity of a senior official's book are rare, but public mistrust has grown and been marked by frequent internet campaigns questioning official claims.

Many postings discussing plagiarism allegations on online bulletin boards and chat rooms on major websites have been deleted.

Ms Xu said the discussions had become a political issue because they involved an official of high stature.

She warned media outlets to stay away from such discussions 'or face the consequences'.