Sun, Jul 01, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Academia Sinica fellows push for special honorific

By Chien Hui-ju  /  Staff reporter

As the number of Chinese nominated for the title of academician (research fellow) at Academia Sinica grows, a group at the institute is preparing a signature drive for honorary “foreign academician” titles for outstanding researchers without Republic of China (ROC) citizenship.

From tomorrow to Thursday, the nation’s top research institution is to hold its 33rd Convocation of Academicians, an event held every two years that focuses on electing new academicians.

According to Article 4 of the Organic Act of the Academia Sinica (中央研究院組織法), academicians are elected from among individuals with outstanding academic achievements nationwide.

However, a review of academicians-elect shows that one or two Chinese have received the title each year since 2000, with eight of this year’s candidates being foreigners, including four Chinese, two Hong Kongers and two Singaporeans.

The list of academician-elects since 2000 shows an upward trend in the number of non-ROC citizens: Even with the Constitution, promulgated in 1947, stating that China is part of ROC territory, only eight Chinese and two Hong Kongers were among the 277 academicians elected before 1950 under the “flexible recognition” system adopted then.

Recent discussions of whether to introduce the honorary title of “foreign academician” were brought up during the institute’s ad hoc organizational reform committee meetings, but the idea has been shelved, a source at Academia Sinica said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

A group of Academia Sinica employees is preparing a signature drive to push for the introduction of such a title, which would justify foreigners being recognized by the institute, the source said.

Existing election rules could distort values and identification, which contravenes the institute’s position as a national research institute and could adversely effect efforts to promote Taiwanese research in international academia, the source said.

Academicians are highly regarded in society, as they are often entrusted by the government with reviewing major academic, technological or business projects, another source at Academia Sinica said.

Foreign counterparts of the institute often have rules stipulating that members must have citizenship of the country, but Academia Sinica has consistently elected members born and raised in China, the source said.

The institute should conduct systemic reform by introducing the new honorary title, like many of its international counterparts have, thus welcoming stellar international academics to assist in the nation’s academic and technological development, the source said.

The list of newly elected academicians is to be published on Thursday, Academia Sinica said.

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