Sheng Li (gmachine1729) wrote,
Sheng Li

Mainland Chinese academic cabal at Princeton University

Originally published at 狗和留美者不得入内. You can comment here or there.

I realized there are a good number of mainland Chinese professors at Princeton University especially in the computer science and math areas, who also have close connections with China, some even taking double salary from universities in China just with their name, not to mention taking part in companies there. Multiple of them also changed citizenship twice.

I decided to make a list.

  • Weinan E: applied math professor, Chinese citizen, academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences, likely physically in China now though still holding onto his Princeton professorship, co-founder of Moqi, which provides an AI service to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security.
  • Kai Li: computer science professor, naturalized American citizen, on the Board of Directors of Moqi, which he physically visited in 2019. Co-founded a $2.4 billion computer storage company in the 2000s, the American VC firm that funded now also funding Moqi. The two other co-founders of Moqi were PhD students of Weinan and Kai respectively.
  • Andrew Yao: Turing Award winner in theoretical computer science, moved to Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2000s, in 2017 renounced his naturalized American citizenship. Born in mainland China, moved to Taiwan with family, then went to America for graduate school.
  • Yigong Shi: biology professor who moved to Tsinghua in 2000s. Naturalized an American citizen 90s while in graduate school or as a postdoc. After renouncing American citizenship, he became an academician of Chinese Academy of Science. His grandfather Shi Ping participated in protests against Chiang Kai-shek as a university student in the 30s, joined Communist Party of China in 1938, and in 1980s was some vice secretary in Shanghai.
  • Gang Tian: Princeton math professor, became academician in China in early 2000s, was criticized by Fields Medalist Shing-Tung Yau for taking equivalent of over $100,000 per year from Beijing University while also taking salary from Princeton University. But it looks like now he has switched to Professor Emeritus while acting as director of some math research institute in Beijing.
  • Nieng Yan: female Chinese biology professor, PhD student of Yigong Shi. Spent 2007-2017 at Tsinghua. Chinese citizen.
  • Danqi Chen: female Chinese assistant professor in natural language processing. Undergraduate done in program of Andrew Yao at Tsinghua.

I just find it interesting how this prestigious American school has so many “double-dealers” and their proteges. Two changed citizenship twice. Two took double salary across US and China, using their name. Two also have major stakes in a Chinese company that essentially serves the Chinese FBI, founded by their two PhD students. And then two female students who became professors.

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