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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion -> 
Integrity comes first
    2015-06-15  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Wu Guangqiang

    jw368@163.com

    TWO seemingly unrelated incidents have rekindled public debate on the long-standing flaw in China’s education system: the lack of honesty and integrity.

    One is the scandal involving Fudan University in Shanghai, one of China’s most prestigious universities, which produced a promotional video that allegedly plagiarized another one produced by Tokyo University.

    The other is the report that 15 Chinese students have been charged in the U.S. with fraud and conspiracy over a four-year scam to fake entry tests for American universities in what educators warn is a wider problem.

    As many online comments say, there is an inevitable causal link between the two events: an education system with a bad reputation of dishonesty will turn out dishonest students.

    To be fair, I don’t think that Fudan University authorities consciously engaged in the plagiarism or encouraged any individual to do so. Nor do I think that dishonest students outnumber honest ones at home or overseas.

    But certain negative factors inherent in the Chinese value system have been influencing most Chinese thoughts and behaviors without their awareness.

    The 4-minute-plus video, released in celebration of Fudan’s 110th anniversary, bears a close similarity to a 2014 Tokyo University video entitled “Explorer.” As a result, Fudan was overwhelmed by criticism and mockery.

    The way Fudan authorities handled the crisis well reflects the widespread misconceptions about plagiarism or deception among many Chinese, including well-educated ones.

    Initially, Fudan’s publicity department insisted that the video was an “independent creation,” but soon took it off its official website and all social media platforms.

    Teng Yudong, producer of the video and deputy director of the publicity department, admitted later that the production team had used the story-telling method and presenting techniques Tokyo University had used as a reference and apologized for embarrassing Fudan.

    Apparently, both the responsible individuals and the authorities were fully aware that they were using others’ ideas or products for “reference,” but neither of them realized that it was plagiarism, a serious academic offense.

    In many Chinese minds, only the exact duplication of another person’s work is plagiarism. Many believe that anything whose contents were edited or doctored could be considered “original” work. Most plagiarism is done under the cover of “imitation” or “reference.”

    That’s why many Chinese students who are accustomed to the plagiarism culture take the bad habit overseas when they attend foreign schools, and some of them have paid a dear price for their mistakes.

    The indictment of the 15 Chinese students in the U.S. lifts the lid on an elaborate cheating scam that saw prospective students pay up to US$6,000 for someone else to take a test on their behalf using a fake passport mailed from China.

    

    According to a white paper recently released by a U.S.-based education agency, the second-largest cause of dismissal of Chinese students from American schools is academic dishonesty, including cheating on exams and plagiarizing.

    In one sense, these young students are victims of adults’ bad examples. Imitation and copying are so pervasive in China that few see them as plagiarism or intellectual property infringement.

    The success of “The David Letterman Show” spawned numerous parodies on Chinese TV channels, all of which copied every detail of the “Letterman” model, except David himself.

    The young take lies for truth because universities grant master’s degrees or doctorate degrees to officials and businesspersons who have seldom or even never attended any lectures. Parents teach their children to be “penny-wise,” to “take shortcuts,” or “cut corners” in life or work.

    By preaching or demonstrating, adults actually encourage young children to cheat.

    China is moving from an economy driven by cheap labor and imitation to one driven by innovation. But it won’t succeed without a respect for integrity. To make our children honest, we adults must set the example. Remember this sentence: “Take honor from me and my life is done.”

    (The author is an English tutor and freelance writer.)

    

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