The New York Times


May 14, 2006

China Says One of Its Scientists Faked Computer Chip Research

SHANGHAI, May 13 China said Friday that a prominent university scientist who had developed one of the nation's first homegrown computer chips had fabricated his research and stolen the technology from a foreign company, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Chen Jin, a dean of Shanghai's prestigious Jiaotong University and the leader of a government-funded high-tech research project, was dismissed from his university posts this week and stripped of other government titles and perks. The government also said that Professor Chen had been permanently banned from taking part in any government-funded science projects.

In a statement Friday, Jiaotong University one of the nation's elite schools said, "Chen Jin has breached the trust of being a scientist and educator. His behavior is despicable."

The case is a huge embarrassment for China and for Shanghai, which in 2003 had touted the first of Professor Chen's three digital signal processor chips as a major scientific breakthrough, a milestone for the nation.

Mr. Chen's project had funding and backing from China's highest scientific and academic bodies. The Shanghai government and Jiaotong University were also financial backers of the project. According to press accounts here, Chinese prime minister Wen Jiabao had even visited Mr. Chen's labs in Shanghai.

Because of tense intellectual property issues with the rest of the world, the Chinese government has made the development of its own high-tech and semiconductor industries a major priority. In March 2003, the government held a press conference in Shanghai to announce a major breakthrough, the development of the Hanxin, or China chip, a high-speed processor for mobile phones and other electronic devices that would help end the foreign monopoly on computer chip design and allow China to begin producing its own patented semiconductor equipment.

Nine months later, the Ministry of Science and Technology held another press conference hailing the development of two faster chips from Mr. Chen's labs, Hanxin 2 and Hanxin 3. Now, the government and Jiaotong say, none of the chips had the capabilities Mr. Chen claimed, even though the government had earlier said that the chips had been tested by government appraisal teams.

The national government has now canceled the Hanxin project and recalled its funds, Jiaotong University said in its Friday press statement.

Suggestions that Mr. Chen and his team had faked their findings were first posted on the Internet last December or January by someone claiming to be a whistle-blower.

Professor Chen could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Mr. Chen headed a Jiaotong University research institute and was named dean of the Microelectronics School in 2003. In 2003, he also founded Shanghai Hanxin Semiconductor Technology, the university-affiliated company that was developing the Hanxin computer chips.