Senior Chinese Science Official Snared in Corruption Probe

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The Communist Party’s effort to root out corruption in officialdom is now targeting its biggest fish to date in the Chinese science establishment. On 12 April, the state news agency Xinhua reported that Shen Weichen, Communist Party secretary at the China Association for Science and Technology, or CAST, “is now under investigation for suspected serious violation of discipline and laws.”

On its website, CAST describes itself as “the bridge linking Chinese science and technology community with the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government.” The nongovernmental organization, headquartered in Beijing, may be best known in China for its efforts to popularize science for the general public and its occasional reports on the state of the nation’s scientific workforce. Its U.S. equivalent is AAAS, publisher of ScienceInsider.

The agency spearheading the anticorruption drive, the Communist Party of China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, announced the investigation without revealing further details about the allegations. Shen could not immediately be reached for comment.

Party secretaries in China wield enormous influence. They have an often delicate power-sharing relationship with an organization’s titular head; major decisions at a university, for instance, normally require sign-off from both the president and the party secretary.

Shen, a career politician, was appointed CAST’s party secretary in April 2013. Prior to that, he served for 2 1/2 years as deputy propaganda minister of the Communist Party of China. Ironically, Shen was appointed to the discipline inspection commission in November 2012; ScienceInsider could not confirm whether he has been relieved of those duties.

Posted in Asia/Pacific, People & Events