Doubt has been cast on the credibility of the report. Photo: SCMP

Think tank may face legal action over fake adviser row

Publisher will stop selling report on Chinese cities by a controversial Hong Kong-based group found to be falsely listing academics as advisers

A publisher has decided to stop selling and distributing a report authored by a Hong Kong-based think tank after a investigation found that the names of academics listed as advisers in the report were used without their consent.

Enrich Professional Publishing said it was prepared to take legal action "to safeguard the best interests of the users and the publisher".

The new revelations cast further doubts over the credibility of the China Institute of City Competitiveness (CICC), the author of the report, which is facing an investigation by the Trade Development Council.

An earlier investigation by the found that the names of at least six speakers or advisers for the 2010 Asian Financial Forum, held in Hong Kong, were listed without permission as advisers in a brochure produced by the CICC last year.

The report, the English-language , was published in September last year and priced at US$158 per copy.

It was the first time that the CICC, which is now preparing to conduct a global survey on city competitiveness, had teamed up with the Baptist University's Advanced Institute for Contemporary China Studies (ACCS) to publish an English version of the report. It has produced a Chinese-language version annually for the past decade.

The report listed 30 members on the institute's editorial board: the editor-in-chief and then ACCS director Victor Sit Fung-shuen; 14 CICC members, five mainland scholars, seven from overseas, and three Baptist University academics.

They included Professor Emeritus Chung-Tong Wu of the University of Western Sydney; Baptist University's Professor Wang Donggen; and Fulong Wu, Bartlett Professor of Planning at University College London.

Chung-Tong Wu told the that he has never had any contact with the CICC and had no knowledge of the think tank.

"As an academic I am extremely concerned about the quality of any publication that may be even remotely tied to my name," Wu said.

"I have not seen the and I have no knowledge of the data it utilised, its methodology or conclusions … I expect them to remove my name from any of their publications or materials."

Wang also said he had no idea that he was listed as an editorial board member.

Another academic, who asked not to be named, also confirmed that he had not been consulted about editorial duties and had no knowledge of the think tank.

Gui Qiangfang, chairman of the CICC, said the editorial board members' list was prepared by the then ACCS director Sit.

Sit, now one of 12 vice-chairmen of the think tank, has not responded to the 's enquiries since September 12.

The publisher and Professor Chow Kai-wing, current director of the ACCS, said they had no plans for the think tank.

In summer last year, Sit's - which described the Communist Party of China as a selfless and united political entity - was one of the causes of controversy that led to the scrapping of the government's national education curriculum, which critics said was a form of brainwashing.

Sit was sacked from his ACCS post by Baptist University last December after an internal inquiry concluded that he had included colleagues' names as the writers of the "academically questionable" without their consent.

It also said Sit had made an "unfounded" allegation that Chinese University's general education programme is "influenced by a US foundation".

Sit's professorship expired last month.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Think tank may face legal action