China: ‘Fraud cop’ accuses IT bigwig, legal action threatened

In the latest of his many crusades against all things fake or fraudulent, popular “science cop” Fang Zhouzi has taken aim at former president of both Shanda Interactive Entertainment and Microsoft China Jun Tang, calling into question everything from Tang's academic credentials to claimed patents, official SEC testimony, even employment history.

[update: also see Roland Soong's post at EastSouthWestNorth, ‘Tang Jun PK Fang Zhouzi’ for more info]

The squabble, now as a hot a topic in traditional media as discussion spaces online, began July 1 with an update from Fang on his microblog, calling fake on a passage from Tang's recent autobiography:


The last sentence of part 56 in chapter two of Jun Tang's “My Success can be Copied” [sic]: “…moved to another company, I almost had to give up my studies. But with the results of my applied research into languagevoice recognition, in the end I was able to get my PhD in the Computer Science program at the California Institute of Technology” —is fake, unless “California Institute of Technology” is a clever translation of the name of some diploma mill school.

Fang's proof? Caltech has no record of of alumni by Tang's name, nor can that name be found in databases of American college PhD dissertations. Top American universities, he writes, unlike those in China, don't allow people to earn degrees through work, or grant them based on a single “success” or dissertation, adding that diploma mills, however, do. Fang, who lives in California, then goes on to cast doubt on Tang's claims of postdoctoral research done at Caltech as well as patents for inventions claimed by Tang—records for which Fang was unable to find—as well as companies Tang claims to have founded, but are registered with the government of California under different names.

Fang's accusations have led to several media reports in which Tang and his secretary repeatedly decline to answer questions seeking to verify or disprove Fang's accusations or clarify the facts in doubt; on July 3, Fang wrote on his blog that on the previous day he had received a threatening anonymous phone call which he has reported to the police.

Today, Fang writes of suddenly being called up by a reporters from CNR and CCTV and informed of a response from Tang, of a counter-accusation: that Fang's claims of Tang's fakery were in themselves fake. For that, Fang responds on his blog by pointing out discrepancies between statements made recently by Tang on CCTV and those made in the book: namely that no claim had been made by him in his autobiography of having received a PhD from or done post-doctoral research at Caltech. Other assertions made by Tang include that Fang Zhouzi hasn't even read the book yet has also fabricated an alternate version, now being used to set him up. As proof, a copy of Tang's book was shown on CCTV absent the passage in question.

Fang, on his blog, determines through various sources the CCTV version to be from a recent printing, and goes on to find said passage in the many places online where early e-copies of the book can be found; he scans in the relevant pages, and even urges his readers to go to a library and see for themselves, which some apparently have.

Things become even more fascinating when Fang comes across Tang's LinkedIn profile and other sources which suggest that while Tang has a PhD, it was granted either by the unaccredited Hawaii-based Pacific Western University which was forced amid controversy to close in 2006 or the California-based Pacific Western University, now known as California Miramar University, with the institution of the latter name only gaining accreditation last year. Lastly, autobiography aside, Fang takes Tang's statement made on CCTV that he has not received a PhD from Nagoya University in Japan and compares that to documents filed at the time of Shanda's NASDAQ listing in 2004—

Mr. Tang holds a doctorate degree in electrical engineering from University of Pacific Western, a doctorate degree in electronics from Nagoya University, Japan

—and concludes:


If Jun Tang in fact did not receive a PhD from Nagoya University, yet in the NASDAQ listing prospectus claims a PhD from Nagoya, then this would mean false information was provided to the SEC, thus, based on American law, to what extent will he be held legally responsible?

Tang, tweets about the World Cup aside (judging from what's been written about this, it appears a number of his tweets have been deleted), has had very little to say :


July 6, 14:15 My lawyer has already advised that legal means be used to punish those who fabricate facts, those who practice fraud then claim to fight it! Fortunately there still is the law, if I don't win in China there's always America.


July 6, 20:49 First, starting from today, my business card will have PhD printed following my name. Second, the law will make those who, now and in the future, fabricate stories to smear others, to pay a price. Third, I am still me, nothing at all has changed, [self-referential promotion for film Tang is making slated to come out in 2011 about a young man from the countryside who lands a job in a foreign firm and fights his way to the top to become the mainland China director of a multinational corporation; Tang will play a security guard and Jack Ma, Kai-Fu Lee, Pan Shiyi reportedly all have roles]! I've had a wee bit of trouble of late, but thankfully all that will be gone tomorrow…!

Is it possible Fang Zhouzi has gotten all his facts entirely wrong?

Fang, for many, has made his argument clear-cut enough to make a judgment, but, if this Sohu poll is to be believed, quite a significant percentage of people (70%) feel that ability is what really matters, and Tang has proven that he has it.

On Sohu's microblog, user Wu Hai writes:

唐骏这个事情真假不管, 先做个专业讨论,如果你是公关公司,你会给唐骏出什么招? 我想到可能的招数是:1)清白: 否认自己说过,是别人误传;2)无辜: 书是传记作家写的,自己没有认真核对;3)转移注意力:讨论其他人的作假问题;4)立新典范:学历算个屁,耽误有痔青年;5)俗人论:你们是羡慕嫉妒恨, 唯恐天下不乱. 请大家补充,纯学术探讨啊!

I'm not concerned whether Jun Tang is lying or telling the truth, but discussion especially for this is needed. If you were a PR agency, how would you advise Jun Tang? I can think of three possible tactics: 1) Go for the honest approach: deny you said it, say people are misinformed; 2) Plead innocent: claim the autobiography was ghost-written, you hadn't looked through it carefully yourself; 3) Divert the attention: discuss falsities in other people's writings; 4) Change the narrative: what does education matter? Why all this over mistakes from my youth?; 5) The layman approach: you're all just jealous haters, the only thing you're afraid of is the day there's no more muck to rake up. Everyone feel free to add to these, this is purely an academic discussion!!


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