Former Microsoft China President and Shanda ex-CEO Tang Jun Embroiled in Fake Diploma Controversy

The following is my latest post on Digital East Asia.

This is one of the most entertaining Internet stories to come out of China in a while, and it is really full of Chinese characteristics – all the bad ones, unfortunately. Tang Jun, who was once heralded as the “emperor of professional managers” for his high profile roles – former president of Microsoft China (NASDAQ: MSFT) and ex-CEO of Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd. ((ADR) NASDAQ: SNDA) – is currently at the center of a massive controversy over his diploma.

QQ has a short summary (link in Chinese) of the event’s development – on July 1st, Fang Zhouzi, a biology PhD who is famous for exposing plagiarism and fabrications in Chinese academia, commented in a series of posts on his Sina Weibo (microblog) that Tang Jun had lied about his education and his patents in his autobiography, “My Success Can Be Replicated” (book name my translation). In the book, Tang had said he held a PhD from Caltech.

Tang initially refused to respond to Fang’s allegations, but on July 6 he stated in public that he has never claimed to hold a PhD from Caltech; instead, his doctor’s degree is from Pacific Western University. Unfortunately, that only fueled the flame, as Fang quickly pointed out that Pacific Western University is a “fake” university with a controversial history and was shut down by the State of Hawaii (check out the wikipedia link) – essentially, this is an institution engaged in the business of selling diplomas and wasn’t accredited. Tang then responded that he went to the other Pacific Western University, the one in California, not in Hawaii; but Fang quickly responded that the two shared the same ownership prior to 2006 (as the wikipedia articles show).

Then Chinese netizens jumped in and started digging out other dirt around Pacific Western University, and in the past week netizens have been circulating “manifests” of notable Chinese businessmen who are rumored to be Tang’s alumni at that institution.

Perhaps also very damaging evidence is Tang’s own LinkedIn profile. Currently the education section lists “Pacific Western University, PhD”, with no timeline attached; but just a few days ago the education section looked like this:

(image courtesy of – this is an edited version of the screenshot that has basically been cropped to highlight the education section of the profile)

Notice how on the education section it still clearly stated a PhD from California Institute of Technology. A search on Baidu Inc. ((ADR) NASDAQ: BIDU) for the keywords “Tang Jun linkedin” (the name in Chinese) also reveals a whole range of blog posts and discussions which expose Tang’s LinkedIn profile change.

Fang also raises the interesting issue of the legal repercussions of Tang’s controversy – he points out in Shanda’s F-1 filing with the SEC before its IPO, it states,

JUN TANG has served as our president since February 2004. Prior to joining us, Mr. Tang served as the president of Microsoft China Co., Ltd. from March 2002 to January 2004 and the general manager of Microsoft Asia product support and service and Microsoft Global Technical Engineering Center from January 1998 to March 2002. Mr. Tang holds a doctorate degree in electrical engineering from University of Pacific Western, a doctorate degree in electronics from Nagoya University, Japan, a master’s degree in electronics from Nagoya University and a bachelor’s degree in physics from Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

Obviously, this is another version of his education – the part where it states that he has a PhD from Nagoya University. It doesn’t indicate that in either the current or earlier version of his LinkedIn profile. Fang therefore raises the interesting question of whether Tang is liable for lying to the SEC.

Questions about Tang’s fake diploma and personal integrity aside, what I find to be really interesting is the surprisingly divided reaction of Chinese netizens. Indeed, there’s one camp of people who are vociferously defending Tang, saying “don’t ask about a hero’s roots”, or “you shouldn’t judge a manager by his education background”. As the other camp rightfully points out, we’re not attacking Tang because of his (relatively) poor education achievements; we’re attacking him because he lied about it.

But the drama doesn’t end there. In the past few days, discussions have intensified around the mystery of Tang’s education history in Japan – he went there to pursue a PhD, but according to most versions of his education background, he did not finish the PhD and went to the US instead in 1990. There were immediately speculations that he went to the US to get what Chinese netizens call a “blood card” – a green card issued by the US to Chinese students abroad who sought political asylum from the Tiananmen incident of 1989.

On this last point, I don’t think there is enough data to support the claim, and even if it were true, I don’t see it as a breach of integrity (I think a lot of Chinese people look at such cases as profiting from the bloodshed). But a consequence of such discussions is that there has been a crackdown on Chinese microblogs, for the obvious reason that the June of 1989 is a banned topic. So right now all the major microblogs are running with a big “beta” sign on the front page, and trending topics of Tang Jun are being harmonized (they have resurfaced on Sina).

Interestingly, netizens are now speculating that Tang has used his influence to get the authorities to censor the topic – another conspiracy theory thrown into the mix. I think the censorship is still more to do with discussions of 1989, rather than Tang’s powerful connections. But such are the dramatic twists of everyday Chinese Internet soap opera.

And before I end – the most recent rumor is Tang’s current employer, Newhuadu Industrial, has fired him. Totally unsubstantiated, but I won’t be surprised if Tang does lose his job because of this.


7 thoughts on “Former Microsoft China President and Shanda ex-CEO Tang Jun Embroiled in Fake Diploma Controversy”

  1. Bayjinger missed the point with respect to his green card. According to other bloggers, Tang Jun came to U.S. in July of 1990, which was after April of 1990, the deadline for getting the “blood card”. Since he got his green card in 1993, which is only a few month after he started workig in Microsoft, he clearly could not obtain his green card via employment based avenue. Therefore, it can be almost certain that he managed to forge the entry date of his initial visa to U.S., thus deceiving the U.S immigration to issue him a green card. According to U.S. immigration law, if a citizenship is obtained through fraudulent means, the citizenship must be removed. Therefore, Tang Jun's U.S. citizenship can be removed if it is proven, based on immigration record, that he forged the entry date of his initial visa to U.S.

  2. Interesting. Yeah, I didn't follow the discussions of his green card that closely. Thanks for your input.
    I will try to bring up your view-point in follow-up posts.

  3. Cecilia Lee the Marketing Director of HOK Operation in China Just Like Bernie Madoff and Tang Jun Falsified her Credits and Work History

    Beijing, China August 2, 2010 – HOK is the global architectural firm that specializes in planning, design and delivery solutions for buildings and communities. Since the firm’s founding in 1955, HOK has developed into one of the world’s largest, most diverse and respected design practices. HOK employs more than 2,000 professionals linked across a global network of 23 offices on four continents. Over at you will find plenty of gorgeous images showcasing of the creative work that HOK’s employees has created for their clients that are spread all over the world. Unfortunately, the creativity of at least one of HOK’s employees is not limited only to architecture, interiors, engineering, planning, but also in the creation of fabricated work history and credentials; and to other fraud and corrupt practices.

    Just like in the case of Tang Jun, the former President of Microsoft's China operation, who seemed to embody the ideal of a successful, globally minded Chinese businessman, Cecilia Lee the Marketing Director of HOK operation in Beijing, China since 2005 titan's academic achievements were significantly embellished — a fact that doesn't seem to concern HOK legal department and President, but has nonetheless Tang Jun catalyzed a worldwide discussion on the place of integrity in Chinese society.

    Earlier this month, Fang Zhouzi, who is known for exposing plagiarism and academic fraud in China, claimed that Tang Jun, who was the President of Microsoft's China operation from 2002 to 2004, had falsely claimed in his autobiography to have earned a doctorate from the California Institute of Technology. Fang also said the California-based Pacific Western University, which awarded Tang his PhD degree in electrical engineering, is actually a “diploma mill”, where students can purchase degrees.

    However, unlike in the case of Tang Jun, which at least he obtained a real Master Degree, Cecelia Lee has graduated from NO university in the Western Hemisphere and possesses no degree in economics, finance, and architecture or in law as she claims. Her claims of fame of earning dual Master’s Degrees, one of which, she obtained from Thunderbird School of Global Management, a private business school in the United States, and the first and oldest graduate school specializing in international management and global business and the second Master Degree from Arizona State University are fraudulent and fabricated at best.

    Cecilia Lee: A Daughter of Chinese Scholars Committing Academic Fraud

    Known to the Western World as Cecilia Lee was born in the Northern part of China in 1969 under the name Xiaoxi Li. Ironically, Cecilia Lee was born to well educated family and she grow up in Beijing Jiaotong University, where her father Professor Li Gen Cheng is teaching civil infrastructure and her mother Professor Cheng Gui Hua teaching architecture according to Cecilia. Cecilia Lee got married at least twice and divorced twice.

    Cecelia Lee claims to be graduated student with Highway Engineering Degree from Tongji University in Shanghai, China. However, her Diploma submitted to Thunderbird is demonstrating that she has graduated from the Foreign Language Institute in Beijing.

    Cecilia Lee for the past 5 and a half years has obtained numerous recognitions for her fabricated accomplishments including the recognition for Women in Business in China, which aims at empowering and recognizing women for their business successes and has been participating in national forums and in other public events on behalf of HOK introducing her fraudulent background in order to win business for HOK. I am challenging both HOK and Cecilia Lee collectedly and individually to prove me wrong publicly and to present the various said diplomas.”

    Cecile Lee – Academic Fraud-at-the-Glance

    In response to subpoenas court order probing into her education background of Cecilia Lee that was issue by Thunderbird School of Global Management in July 10, 2008, Thunderbird represented that once upon a time in America Cecilia Lee has taken total of 15 courses of prerequisite-classes and the total number credit collected disqualifying her from graduation;

    Furthermore, in response to subpoenas court order probing into her education background of Cecilia Lee that was issue by Arizona State University on July 11, 2008 indicating that once upon a time in America Cecilia Lee has taken total of 3 courses of prerequisite-classes for Master Degree

    Window to the Stolen Treasures

    In September 2006 Cecilia Lee, Xiaozhuang Li and Xuan K. Le were named as the prime suspects for breaking into EurOrient Financial Group corporate property and removing millions of dollars worth of art and antiquities, intellectual properties, and other properties belonging to EurOrient or its subsidiaries. This break-in occurred between July and September 2006 and was uncovered in September 2006. This crime against EurOrient is under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, and is considered to be amongst the largest art thefts within the United States of America.

    The EurOrient Financial Group announced in June 2010 that EurOrient is holding in its possession information that directly links Cecilia Lee and her brother Xiaozhuang Li, who is a Chinese food delivery boy in the great Los Angeles area, into the crime scenes. Since 2006, Cecilia Lee has managed to avoid and to delay the trail and legal presiding by excising various legal evasions and deception tricks.

  4. 另一个学历门欺诈翻译件

    唐峻学历门丑闻另一案例: 霍克国际(亚洲太平洋)中国业务发展总监李晓溪( HOK,BEIJING)伪造学历背景与工作经历

    美国霍克国际建筑设计公司(HOK)是一家致力于提供规划、设计和交付方案的全球建筑公司。自1955年 成立以来,霍克已发展成为世界最大、最为成功的设计公司,美国霍克设计公司(HOK)在全球拥有23家分公司,超过2000. 人的建筑设计师团队,其足迹几乎遍及各大洲。流览美国霍克设计公司(HOK)的网站,您将看到许多由霍克集团设计师团队为客户设计、创作的优雅作品图片。然而不幸的是,在霍克公司至少有一名员工,其创作能力不是擅长于建筑、室内设计、规划,而是伪造工作经历和学历背景。
    微软中国区前任总裁唐峻,似乎完美地展现了一个有全球眼光的成功中国商人的形象。无独有偶, 霍克国际(亚洲太平洋)中国业务发展总监李晓溪,自2005年就职于霍克公司以来大大美化自己的学历背景,霍克公司人事、法律部门和总裁对李晓溪伪造学历这一事实似乎满不在乎,但尽管如此,唐峻学历欺诈案件公布于众后,已在全国引发了关于中国社会的诚信地位问题的讨论。
    然而,与唐峻文凭欺诈丑闻有所不同的是,至少唐峻本人获得了真实的硕士学位,而此文章中所提及的主人公 , 霍克国际(亚洲太平洋)中国业务发展总监李晓溪女士(cecilia lee)却没有毕业于任何她所声称的大学院校,当然也不可能获得她所声称的经济专业、金融专业、建筑专业或是法律专业的学历证书。李晓西声称她毕业于美国两所著名大学并获得了两个硕士学位,一所是雷鸟商学院(全球第一家也是资格最老的一家专功于国际管理和全球商务的研究学院),另外一所大学是亚利桑那州立大学。
    Cecilia Lee ,中文名字李晓溪,1969年出生于中国北部,两次离异。据李晓溪声称,他出生于书香世家,其父亲李根成是北方交通大学土木建筑工程学院教授,母亲程桂华是北方交通大学建筑系教授。
    在过去五年半,李晓溪通过所伪造的文凭学历背景和工作经历获得众多赞誉。其中,包括李晓溪代表美国霍克设计公司(HOK),以成功女性高级白领身份在“商界女性” 及其他论坛中作为演讲嘉宾,进一步宣扬她所伪造的学历背景和工作经历。

  5. Backers of the company include former aQuantive co-founder Mike Galgon; super angel Geoff Entress; BuddyTV co-founder Andy Liu; former Microsoft executive Charles Fitzgerald; Groundspeak CEO Jeremy Irish; Razorfish Chairman Clark Kokich; …

  6. Rumors last week of talks with Microsoft were quickly scotched.
    Barron’s points out that Nokia is currently sitting on a healthy balance
    sheet which will help it through the dark days ahead as it struggles to
    ship its first Windows Phone product. …

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