Fatal Car Accident Uncovers More University Plagiarism

Recently, the “My Dad is Li Gang” incident has been white hot on the Chinese internet. The short version: a drunk rich kid plowed an expensive car into two pedestrians on the campus of Hebei University and tried to drive away — twice — without even stopping to see how they were. One student was killed in the accident, and another seriously injured. When accosted by guards, the kid cried arrogantly, “Sue me if you dare, my Dad is Li Gang.” Li Gang is a high-level police official.

The scandal has drawn attention, again, to the privilege and wealth associated with government officialdom. Li Qiming, the son, has already been arrested — and done some public weeping on CCTV — but the anger and attention has brought to light several other issues. Li Gang, it turns out, owns five houses, and his son was driving a remarkably expensive car, and netizens are enraged at yet another example of official corruption and arrogance.

The Hebei University president, too, has been implicated in a scandal that would never have come to national attention if it weren’t for Li Qiming’s murderous drunk driving. Netizens have uncovered that he’s suspected of having plagiarized 27,000 characters of his thesis. The following is a translation from Wang Keqin’s blog, with occasional commentary interspersed from us.

As early as March of this year, a netizen called “Truth Seeker” posted on the website Xinyusi that large parts of the seventh chapter of Hebei University Party Secretary and President Wang Hongrui’s Ph.D thesis were identical to content from a Master’s thesis written by Yanshan University Electrical Engineering student Wu Jianzhen.

Apparently, at the time, no one was particularly interested, and the story was not picked up by major media outlets. But then…

Yesterday, a reporter from the Morning News borrowed the two thesis from the National Library. After carefully examining them, the reporter discovered that there was indeed a high degree of similarity between Wu Jianzhen’s third and fourth chapters and Wang Hongrui’s seventh chapter, and that many paragraphs were completely identical.

Additionally, the reporter also discovered that Wang Hongrui had been the assistant advisor for Wu Jianzhen’s Master’s thesis. Wu Jianzhen completed his thesis and defense in August of 2001; Wang Hongrui finished his thesis and became a Ph.D in October of 2002, so there’s a one year and two months’ difference between when the two graduated.

From later in the article:

Wang Hongrui’s Ph.D thesis is 123 pages in total, with Chapter 7 spanning pages 92-121 and subdivided into six sections. In total, it contains about 29,000 characters. Aside from a few headings and summaries at the end of sections (270 characters in section 7.1, 300 in section 7.2, 120 in section 7.6 and 1000 at the end of the chapter) that did not appear in Wu Jianzhen’s thesis, about 90% of the content (approximately 27,000 characters) is essentially the same as Wang Jianzhen’s chapters 3 and 4. Most paragraphs are exactly the same, and most of the changes that do exist are just added transition words like “because of this…”, “we know that…” etc.

Of course, this isn’t the first instance of university officials being guilty of plagiarism that China has ever seen. But perhaps it’s instructive to note that whenever a specific place comes under this kind of scrutiny, little corruption scandals seem to pop up everywhere. Right now, Li Gang’s family and Hebei University are feeling the heat. The anger in the air over the accident, the arrogance, and the corruption is quite palpable. Whether that anger will translate into any kind of justice remains to be seen.

More on the “My Dad is Li Gang” and plagiarism scandals on ESWN.

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0 thoughts on “Fatal Car Accident Uncovers More University Plagiarism”

  1. Realistically I think the driver of the fatal accident, Li Gang’s son, will get 3-5 years of prison time. Normally the Chinese law would give the guy a much lighter sentence since he didn’t kill more than 2 people, however I feel this accident is somewhat similar to 七十码事件 last year where the driver (some rich 2nd generation) was sent to 3 years in prison. In the later case the driver didn’t keep on driving and say stupid things, but was the son of an extremely wealthy local, has a bad driving record, and was driving a heavily modified car. It was the following public outrage which made the case more difficult for the defendant.

    Most people think Li Gang will probably lose his job as the investigation into how he acquired 5 luxury homes continues. Personally I feel that it is certainly possible to make a huge amount of money in China based on a police deputy’s salary without outright corrupt and money stuffing, so I am not sure where this will lead to.

    Finally, I don’t think anything will happen to Wang Hongrui. Sure he may be humiliated but unlike the case with Tang Jun people won’t care about it in 2 months.

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  2. I am very interested, actually, in what Chinese government salaries are like, especially at the higher levels. Does anyone have any idea what someone like Li Gang actually gets as his official salary? Or Hu Jintao? And has Xi Jinping been given a raise as a result of his recent promotion? Perhaps nobody among the Chinese public really cares about this as it’s assumed that they make most of their money from corruption, but I wonder what the official salary levels really are. I imagine there is a lot of variation between low and high positions – or not?

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  3. Hu Jintao’s salary was reported to be 70k rmb, or roughly 6k rmb per month.

    There are few ways government officials can make tons of money quick however. First they can borrow money at zero interest using their connections. Then they use that money to acquire heavily discounted real estate properties. Like the case with Li Gang, it’s not unheard of to see these people with multiple properties. They don’t even live in them, instead they flip these properties in a year and they will make millions even if the real estate values don’t rise because they bought it at a discount.

    When we think corruption we think people bribe politicians with bags of money like what Iran/US is doing in Afghanistan, but real estate is how most Chinese politicians made their fortunes from.

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  4. @LOLZ: That is some great info. No doubt many politicians still receive bags of cash, but that is dangerous. Given the property bubble, easy credit, and the low salaries that virtually compels officials to seek income from other means, it seems very logical that what you described is correct. Also I would imagine that this somewhat less obscene method of corruption is more acceptable among politicians that think of themselves as “clean.”

    If this phenomenon is widespread, it could go a long way in explaining the size and stubbornness of the property bubble.
    Do you happen to have any outside resources on this you can forward?

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  5. @ Interested: We have written about this before on the blog. I can’t link to it (using a proxy at the moment, the link would get all messed up and wouldn’t work for you), but search this site for a post titled “Government Officials Buy Housing at 4% of Market Value”

    Also check out: “State Media Blames Housing Crisis on Corrupt Government”

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