Chinese officials are known for cheating their way into amassing wealth, but now they’ve been exposed for another kind of deception—faking their academic credentials.
A state-published magazine called “Half-Month Talk” published an article on Jan. 26 detailing how 142 high-level officials who have been purged for corruption since the last Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership transition were found to have faked their academic backgrounds.
Shortly after gaining control of the CCP in 2012, Xi Jinping launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign to get rid of misbehaving officials that continues to this day.
Many of those officials had degrees in fields outside of their work experience. For example, the former head of the Ministry of Public Security, Wu Changshun, never left the police field but received a master’s of business administration (MBA) and an engineering doctorate in a very specialized field of machine design.
Meanwhile, a former Yunnan Province deputy governor Shen Peiping majored in Chinese but received a doctorate in geography from a renowned university in Beijing. He was then hired by that school to be a professor at its natural resources institute.
Others would receive higher education degrees in astoundingly short time periods. Former Hebei Province party secretary Zhou Benshun received a doctorate law within a year, at Wuhan University.
According to the resume of the former chief of the United Front Work Department in Inner Mongolia, Wang Suyi, he was studying for a doctorate in legal theory and an MBA at the same time.
These officials want to use fraudulent academic degrees as a means to give themselves prestige and increase their potential for promotion, while universities and higher education institutions are eager to please them because officials have the power to allocate resources for them, according to an expert at the Beijing-based education think tank 21st Century Education Research Institute quoted in the “Half Month Talk” article.
This kind of tit-for-tat bribery benefits both sides: Schools get the political connections they need to prosper, while officials get to show off their “smarts.”
Some officials take it further. Former Nanjing mayor, Ji Jianye was getting a doctorate at a prestigious university in Jiangsu Province while also serving on the school’s board. Ji could help the school gain resources through his public post, while his position on the school’s board guarantees preferential enrollment for his children in the future.