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[BEIJING] For the first time in recent years, a top Chinese university has fired a faculty member for academic misconduct.

Tsinghua University in Beijing confirmed yesterday (27 March) that it had fired Liu Hui, a professor of medicine earlier this month for including on his CV a paper that was in fact written by US-based researcher Liu Hong.

Liu Hui says, however, that the mistake was made not by him, but by the Tsinghua University library, which compiles lists of papers for professors' online CVs.

A spokesperson of the Ministry of Education told Beijing Morning Post yesterday that it supported the disciplinary action taken by the university.

The ministry also announced that it would set up an ethics committee to strengthen the fight against academic misconduct.

Questions over Liu Hui’s CV were first raised in November 2005 on the New Threads website, set up by science columnist Fang Zhouzi to expose pseudoscience, plagiarism and other forms of academic fraud.

Fang says that most of the 400 cases he has exposed since 2000 have been "neither thoroughly investigated nor seriously punished" (see Out to debunk: China's 'science police').

"[Tsinghua University's] decision is highly satisfactory," says Fang. "It shows that the academic authorities, facing public pressure, have begun to pay attention to academic corruption in China."

Last week, China's science minister Xu Guanhua admitted publicly for the first time that unethical behaviour among the country's science community was a serious problem.

Speaking at a seminar on 23 March, Xu said his ministry would reform the way it awards research funding in an attempt to tackle the problem.