When China’s leading infectious disease expert gently pushed back against his country’s draconian anti-Covid measures, he was hit by what appeared to be a textbook smear operation.
This startling story from China is perhaps an opportunity to segue to a few matters: 1. How the COVID19 pandemic has afforded the opportunity for science’s amazing value to the world and also sometimes exposed how science can be flawed. 2. How China flexes it muscles to deal with academic freedom. 3. The degree t which allegations of plagiarism can devastate careers. We have included links to 21 related items.
The claims prompted Shanghai’s Fudan University, where Zhang got his doctorate in molecular biology in 2000, to announce an investigation into his case, and news outlets outside China picked up the story as a cautionary tale of the consequences of deviating from the party line.
But when a group of Chinese scientists living in China and abroad claimed there was merit in the allegations against Zhang, the shadowy levers of the Chinese state seem to have launched a hasty clean-up operation to restore Zhang’s international reputation as top scientist.
On August 23, eight days after announcing an investigation into Zhang, Fudan University said he had been cleared of any misconduct. The statement clearing Zhang’s name was widely disseminated on Chinese state media, the initial Weibo post that had first alerted people to anomalies in Zhang’s work deleted and the user’s account suspended. Zhang’s dissertation was deleted from CNKI and Wanfangdata, two popular databases for academic papers.