(Minghui.org) Many people believe that the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989 by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) shattered Chinese intellectuals’ dreams of building a democratic country, and turned them into people who cared only about making money. After the CCP started persecuting Falun Gong in 1999, the erosion of moral values as a result of the persecution has further worsened the corruption of intellectuals.

Taking higher education as a example, universities are known to be places for highly-educated intellectuals, including faculty, researchers, students, and administrators. Often seen as pillars for social progress, however, Chinese universities have also become focal points of the CCP’s ideological control.

Freedom of Thought and Expression Suffocated on Campus

Over the years, the Party has established mandatory communism courses, set up Party branches, and monitored words and behaviors on the campus in nearly all colleges. After the persecution of Falun Gong began, many colleges were also instructed to set up branches of the 610 Office to target faculty, staff, and students who practiced Falun Gong, a mind-body practice based on the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance.

These measures forced intellectuals to abandon their judgment of right and wrong, and downplay moral values. As time went on, their independent thinking spirits were weakened and their ability was compromised. The valued traits of intellectuals, such as being altruistic, questioning incorrect phenomena, exploring unknown areas, building friendly work environments, and contributing to society, were trashed by many intellectuals, who instead turned their attention to pursuing material interests, power, and accomplishments, as well as focusing on pleasing higher officials. Accompanying these phenomena was their increasing indifference to all kinds of social issues.

Although college professors and students collectively publish a large number of research articles every year, that is just glory on the surface. The matter of fact is that intellectuals are rapidly corrupting, as a whole. More specifically, such shortsightedness on pursuing the quantity of publications has distorted education and research ecology, resulting in intellectuals fighting each other over material interests. As a whole, they have become a group riddled with unhealthy competition and infighting in their requests to obtain research funds and seek publication. By abandoning self-esteem and a moral bottom line, they are disrespected by the public and have lost momentum in driving societal progress. In the end, they have become a political vassal of the CCP.

As explained below, when the principles of Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance were suppressed, universities in China gradually lost moral values in three areas: fraud became normal, infighting intensified, and shortsightedness turned prevalent.

The Opposite of Truthfulness: Fraud Becomes Normal

In February 2003, Chen Jin from Shanghai Jiaotong University claimed he had developed a cutting-edge digital signal processing (DSP) microchip which he named Hanxin. This earned him famous titles and funding from the Ministry of Science and Technology. It was not until 2006 that various versions of the chip from Chen were found to be either fake or products purchased from other companies. Chen was removed as dean of Shanghai Jiaotong University, and his funding was rescinded.

The Hanxin incident is only one of the countless academic fraud cases in China. Many college officials and professors have also raked in funding through fake transactions, fabricated invoices, and kickbacks. Some officials even abused their power to seize compensation that belonged to ordinary researchers.

Such a trend started when universities began to use the number of state-sponsored projects and fundings a researcher or professor was able to get as a key performance indicator for promotions, benefits, and resource allocations. There is an unspoken rule that any unspent funding could negatively affect future funding. As a result, professors are often urged to spend down all their research funding in order to receive more funds for upcoming years. In the meantime, they are also urged by their universities to apply for more than what is needed by their specific research projects, so the universities could also rake in more money (schools usually take a cut of professor’s research fundings).

Professors are also responsible for purchasing equipment, recruiting research assistants, and seeking reimbursement of their expenditures. Many universities have overly complicated reimbursement policies in place as a way to protect themselves from government audits, because they could argue that they have specific policies to mitigate misuse of funds. These policies, however, add pressure to already stressed-out professors, who face difficulty in applying for funding, allocating funds, and getting expenses reimbursed. Even honest faculty members need to figure out how to use up their funds while still meeting all the complicated reimbursement policies. Many eventually turned to faking invoices.

As this continued, professors and officials became unable to maintain their ethical standard. To obtain more funding and promotion, many have also begun to engage in fraud in their scientific research, in addition to the financial fraud mentioned above. Besides the Hanxin incident from Jiaotong University in Shanghai, other universities and research institutions also have similar incidents.

Multimedia Tools and Applications, a journal under German publisher Springer, retracted 39 articles authored by Chinese researchers between 2018 and 2020 alone due to plagiarism and other academic misconduct. They include “[duplication] from an unpublished manuscript, authorship manipulation, an attempt to subvert the peer review process, substantial overlap, most notably with the article cited, and figure duplication without appropriate permission.” Many of them were government-sponsored research projects from Zhejiang University, Beihang University, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, China Jiliang University, Changzhou Institute of Technology, and others. Interestingly, the college administrators were seldom involved in investigating and exposing these misconducts because these officials also benefited from the exaggerated accomplishments.

The frauds span beyond the financial and scientific research areas. To cover up the education and research failures, colleges ramped up the number of their publications, to show their academic achievement. They also offered great benefits to attract overseas researchers with high numbers of publications, while downplaying junior researchers inside China who had not yet had that many publications. Other fraud cases included manipulating data to artificially increase employment rates and boost college rankings, and blocking negative news such as bullying or suicide on campus.

The Opposite of Compassion: Infighting is Intensified

Besides fraud, there have also been increasing conflicts between major stakeholders on campus. There is infighting between professors, and conflicts between faculty and students. Even students have issues with other students.

For example, professors often fight with each other or “gang up” to further their own interests. The funding, awards, and titles are controlled by officials and/or senior-ranking academics. Facing such intense conflicts, junior faculty members often have to join different factions for protection. Besides working hard on research, they have to spend time and energy on maintaining connections.

With no resources or power, graduate students are often at the bottom of the hierarchy of research achievements, becoming cheap labor. Despite their contributions, their work is hardly recognized. Li Peng, a 25-year-old graduate student from East China University of Science and Technology, died during an explosion on May 23, 2016, while working at his advisor’s factory. Seeing the poor environment with no basic safety measures, Li’s family questioned why the advisor was not there or providing any protection. But no one addressed this question.

Some professors exploited their students’ cheap labor in exchange for graduation. Furthermore, they asked the students for reimbursement, shopping, and helping with household chores. The huge pressure and mistreatment has caused mental problems and suicides among students, but colleges have often covered up these issues or protected the professors. To compete for awards or avoid bullying, students have had to bribe professors or officials, or defame other students.

As the conflicts became intensified, students learned how to take revenge by attacking professors, citing political and academic reasons. This way, the college campuses have become a playground of the CCP’s Party culture. The infighting is intense and counterproductive. There are many cases where a faculty member or student goes overseas, and it is easy for him or her to make achievements. But upon returning to China, it is much harder to remain successful.

The Opposite of Forbearance: Shortsightedness Turns Prevalent

In addition to fraud and conflicts, shortsightedness has also become serious in colleges. People are eager for quick success and instant gratification. Worried about losing short-term gains, many people cannot eat or sleep well. Instead of improving themselves, they often try to find shortcuts and compete with others. Very few people have a calm mind.

As government officials, presidents of state-owned colleges focus on superficial accomplishments for their political careers instead of taking actions to solve real problems. They are reluctant to change internally, and often focus on overseas collaboration for propaganda effect. Related to these problems, colleges sometime over-promise benefits to attract overseas talent. All these have caused serious problems. When colleges seek talent at all costs, they sometimes make promises that they cannot keep. As a result, their new-hires often have conflicts with administrators when what was promised is not delivered. In order to prevent professors from leaving, some schools have threatened faculty with withholding of funding, stripping of all awards, and other measures.

Fighting for assigned housing, projects, and special titles have become a norm for many faculty members. They have tried all means and connections to seek titles. Although the funding applications are often detailed and well-prepared, their projects are often concluded prematurely with sloppy reports. Some professors also have used fake businesses to apply for government subsidies.

Members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, many who are also faculty members of different schools, often hold high power in awarding funding to applicants. While they serve as reviewers of applications, they also apply for fundings themselves. This is a strange phenomenon, because they are allowed to award themselves funding without an independent review process.

Unfortunately, such undesirable situations of going against Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance are not limited to universities, and are also prevalent in other parts of society. As intellectuals, we need to remember our dreams, know our responsibilities, and follow our conscience.

In fact, many of these phenomena were caused by the CCP’s Party culture. Since it took power in 1949, the CCP has killed more than 80 million innocent Chinese, including intellectuals, through its numerous political campaigns. By rejecting the CCP and cherishing traditional values, such as Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance, we can have a path for the future.