Project 211

Executives rejected for prestige academy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 July, 2011, 12:00am

Several government officials and top executives of state-owned enterprises failed to make it through to the second round of voting for new honorary members for the prestigious Chinese Academy of Engineering.

An election committee member says they were screened out because of a lack of academic credentials and potential negative social images, as the academy is wary of becoming a club for the rich and powerful.

The independent national organisation, established in 1994, announced on its website on Friday that it rejected 322 candidates - more than 66 per cent of the total nominees - during the first round of peer reviews and anonymous voting.

Those who did not make the cut included Fu Chengyu, chairman of Sinopec and former chief of China National Offshore Oil Corporation; Huang Weihe, chief engineer of Petro China; Zhang Xinguo, deputy general manager of Aviation Industry Corporation of China; and Shen Xiaoming, deputy mayor of Shanghai.

They were denied membership because of a failure to demonstrate adequate contributions to the science of engineering, according to Professor Wang Mengshu, a member of the academy's member-election committee.

Wang said some state-owned company executives and government officials were eager to enter the academy and many had been nominated for years. 'We vote them out in the first round,' he said. 'We don't want the academy to become a club of the rich and powerful.'

Not all candidates with business and government backgrounds are automatically rejected. For instance, Zhang Yuzhuo, general manager of coal giant Shenhua Group, made it through to the second round.

The Academy of Engineering is the mainland's most prestigious academic institute for engineering science. Candidates are competing for 60 openings this year.

There has been criticism online as an increasing number of executives and officials have entered the academy in recent years. They include Fu Zhiyuan, former railways minister; Wang Yupu, former president of the mainland's massive Daqing oilfield; and Wang An , then general manager of China Coal.

Dr Fang Shimin, a science critic and founder of a website targeting academic scandals, xys.org, said what lured candidates to the academy was fame, power and life membership. It is regarded as one of the highest honours on the mainland. There are just 737 living members.