Friday, 20 December 2013

The Elite Expands: CAS and CAE admit 103 new academicians to their ranks

Qiushi, the CCP's fortnightly magazine (published online at, has published reports on the latest engineers and scientists to be admitted to the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE, 中国工程院) and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS, 中国科学院).  

In total, 103 newly minted academicians were announced, with 51 making being annointed by the CAE, and 53 rising to the upper-echelons of China's science elite through admission to CAS.  

The youngest appears to be 45 year old Professor XIE Yi of the University of Science and Technology China (USTC), Hefei, Anhui.  In addition to being very young to be elevated to CAS, Professor XIE is one of only three women selected this year out fo 53 new additions.  Professor XIE completed her PhD in Chemistry at USTC following her undergraduate studies at Xiamen University.  She held a postdoc at SUNY and is also a Changjiang Scholar (sometimes referred to as Yangzi or Cheung Kong scholar), a presitigious appointment made through the Ministry of Education and in recognition of academic excellence in her field.  Professor Xie has been a full Professor at USTC, one of China's presitgious C9 universities, since 1998, making her only 31 at the time of that appointment.  Impressive stuff and a possible future university President, or maybe even Vice Minister or Minister (MoE or MoST).  

The CAS, CAE and CASS (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) are the true elite in Chinese academic circles.  Those with academician status not only hold extremely high status within the academic field, they also move seemlessly between academia and state.  In most cases, academicians advise government and shape discourses on the development of their field, while many academicians also shape policy through their bridging of the academic and officials circles.  

It should also be pointed out that many key performance indicators set by university management will include how many academicians are currently at the institution. The China Alumni Association Report contains a ranking of universities in China, which I believe is the most accurate reflection of public opinion on the status of China's elite universities.  The measurements utilised include no. CAS, CAE and CASS academicians, no. of alumni holding senior government posts, and no. of alumni worth in excess of RMB100m.  Academicians are held in the same esteem as officials holding Vice-Minister posts and above, and as captains of industry who have made their fortunes in the post-reform era.  

But crucially, they are also essential for bringing in the mega-bucks research grants such as the 973, 863 Major and Supporting sci-tech projects funded through the Ministry of Science and Technology.  

They are the real movers and shakers of academia, capable of influencing, perhaps even setting, the research agenda through their input to government policy. 

Original language article (Chinese only):  


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