The majority of the Yale community does not speak Chinese, and therefore, has been unable to see thousands of netizens protest against Yale’s decision to accept George Chen as an incoming World Fellow. On Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, disappointment over Yale’s decision has been so widespread. A group of opinion leaders, including Yale alumni based in Hong Kong, is currently organizing a public campaign to raise further awareness on Chen’s disqualification for such a prestigious fellowship.
Concern over Yale’s selection of Chen comes from three primary reasons.
First of all, it is widely believed that Chen is providing fraudulent and misleading information on his résumé, which is available under his Yale profile. George Chen claimed that he was awarded the “Asia 21 Young Leader” by the Asia Society in 2008. However, his name is not shown on Asia Society’s website as a young leader, nor does his name appear in any website associated with the Asia Society. A further investigation has revealed that Chen attended the three-day Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit held by the Asia Society in Tokyo, Japan in November 2008. According to the brochure of that particular summit, George Chen is merely one of the 200 delegates, rather than a member of the 21-member “core group of Asia 21 Young Leaders Fellows.”
In addition, Chen stated on his LinkedIn profile that he was awarded the U.S. Journalism “30 under 30” Award in 2007. Unfortunately, the award was never called the U.S. Journalism Award; the precise title of this award is NewsBios 30 Under 30, offered by TJFR Group/NewsBios. Chen’s tactics in both of these cases take advantage of the instinctual trust and the lack of verification from his audience, possibly including the Yale World Fellows admissions committee.
Secondly, Chen, an alumnus of the University of Hong Kong, has a record of mobilizing university resources to serve his personal interests. He founded the International Relations Council of the University of Hong Kong and publicly stated that “IRC is proud to be supported by the Master of International and Public Affairs program at the University of Hong Kong.” A letter from the HKU, however, confirmed that “IRC HKU was not set up or initiated by HKU or the PPA department. It was set up by Mr. Chen (and possibly his fellow graduates) as an alumni association.” The letter also clarified that “the name of ‘IRC HKU’ went beyond serving HKU alumni and did not appear to follow the University’s guidelines on the setting up of alumni organizations.” It is within reasonable speculation that Mr. Chen might practice a similar trick to take advantage of Yale’s resources in the future.
Thirdly, Chen has demonstrated numerous times his lack of humanistic concerns to society. For example, in response to the article “Investment banker jumps to death from J.P. Morgan’s headquarters in Central,” published on Feb. 18, 2014, Chen posted derogatory and offensive comments about the decedent on Weibo. The so-called “sources” Chen claimed in the article were unverified. Chen commented, “the person who chose to jump off the building in Central to end his life today was a junior level employee at J.P. Morgan. He was only 33 years old, named Li (Name on passport was Li, not Lee), and he was only an associate. His main role was to do supporting works for different department and projects within the bank. I don’t understand why an associate would have such large stress, and end life in such a way.” The comment has generated substantial concern over Chen’s lack of sympathy as an individual and his lack of professionalism as a journalist.
The evidence mentioned above is only part of Chen’s controversy, and already present significant concerns with Yale’s decision to admit him as an incoming World Fellow. As a Yale student, a former Lindsay fellow and a soon-to-be alum, I expect the Yale World Fellows committee to stand with the entire Yale community in order to defend the reputation and resources of our University.
Therefore, I, along with thousands of concerned individuals and groups in the Greater China Area, urge the committee to initiate an investigation into Chen’s application and present a public explanation to the entire Yale community.
Erdong Chen is a second-year student in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org .