何毓琦的个人博客分享 http://blog.sciencenet.cn/u/何毓琦 哈佛(1961-2001) 清华(2001-date)

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To Organizers of Chinese Scientific Conferences

已有 6417 次阅读 2010-9-11 03:09 |系统分类:海外观察

For new readers and those who request to be “好友 good friends” please read my 公告first.

Recently through a Chinese colleague of mine as intermediary, I received an invitation to be a plenary speaker in a forth coming Chinese conference. Accompanying the invitation was an attached announcement of the conference in which I was prominently listed as the plenary speaker without my knowledge.
Let me make three observations about this issue.
1.   I realize the matter of “Face” is of utmost importance in China. Declination of an invitation may be considered “losing face” for the host. Thus Chinese often prefer to go through an intermediary with “kwanxi” to find out the answer before issuing a formal invitation. This is fine but often unnecessary. Sometimes, due to miscommunication via an intermediary, the invited speaker will get the wrong impression as the next point demonstrates
2.   The organizers generously offer to pay for all my expenses for speaking at the conference. However, because of going through an intermediary, this important fact was not made known when my colleague transmitted the message of invitation. While this did not make a difference in my case since I cannot accept the invitation due to my other commitments, this can be an important consideration for other foreign speakers. After all, offer to pay all expenses (which are considerable) for a foreign speaker demonstrates the sincerity and importance the organizers attach to the invitation. It is an honor for the invited. Not doing so will be considered as a casual and worthless invitation (i.e., we can accommodate you if you pay your own way and happens to be in China. Surely you do not invite an honored guest to China this way). Here the good and honorable intention of the host was lost due to miscommunication.
3.   I also understand that it is useful to attract attendance if you feature a prominent name as attendee to and speaker for your conference. But you should never do this without permission. This is equivalent to saying in an advertisement that such and such famous movie star is endorsing our commercial product without getting permission and/or paying an endorsement fee. You can be sued for damages in the US and many other countries. While I am not a famous movie star and money is not really a consideration at my stage of life. Such practice in academia is irregular and still inappropriate when dealing with foreigners. The proper way, if one must, is to list the proposed speaker’s name with a parenthetical remark (that he has been invited without indicating whether or not he will actually be present) and then stop doing so as soon as he declines.
Chinese social practices are often very different from the rest of the world. One should be cognizant about what are the proper procedure and ways of doing things internationally. Perhaps the host thinking that I am ethnically Chinese and he should follow the “Chinese way”. I speak openly and bluntly here not because I was offended (in fact I was honored to be asked) but because my love of China, desire to see her take her rightful place in the S&T world, and to avoid such unintended consequences in the future by others.


http://blog.sciencenet.cn/blog-1565-361841.html

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