On May 12 it was revealed that Chen Jin, the dean of the Micro-electronics School at Jiaotong University and also the general manager of the chip manufacturer Hanxin Sci-Tech, had made up the research behind a series of computer chips for digital signals processing - for which he had built a national reputation.
Following a whistleblower's letter last December, the government and university had launched an investigation. The 21st Century Business Herald, a well regarded newspaper, repoted that Chen had taken chips formerly produced by Motorola and hired migrant workers to scrub its trademarks off and replace them with that of Hanxin.
It was Jen, who after returning to China from his studies in the US in 2003, who claimed to have created China's first homegrown digital signal computer chips. Eric Thun, the Peter Moores lecturer of Chinese Business Studies at Saïd Business School, Oxford University, comments that "this kind of problem occurs partly because Beijing is pushing so hard for an independent technological capability in China, when much of the development to date has come from joint venture agreements. This has led to some frustration and the subsequent search for quick results. This, in turn, can lead to the sort of problem we see here."
Will the Chinese government learn some important lessons from this experience and introduce some greater safeguards? This is not likely as the desire to catch up fast with the developed nations will not go away. "The pressure," says Thun, "will still be there to find the fastest route to technological development and there is a wider problem in China in establishing the credentials of people. There are not the same norms there as we have at present in the West."
"Fake chip storm shocks China's scientitfic elite"
The Financial Times, 15 May 2006
"Scandal hurts China in its high-tech push"
The International Herald Tribune, 15 May 2006
Review by Morice Mendoza