2017-07-04 11:48:41

An official in northwestern China was apparently so inspired by a speech about honesty that he decided to plagiarize a newspaper article and publish it as his own.

A net user discovered on Sunday that the cadre’s article, titled “He who wants to teach others must first himself understand; he who wants to instruct others must first himself be correct,” bore a striking resemblance to a commentary published by state news agency Xinhua in 2015 under a similar headline: “In order to be strict with oneself, it is important to be self-dignified, to self-criticize, and to have self-discipline.”

The more recent article’s byline belongs to Li Zhifeng, a former teacher who is now the Party committee secretary of Fu County, near the city of Yan’an in Shaanxi province. In the article, published June 23 in local newspaper Yan’an Daily, Li describes how he felt inspired after learning of President Xi Jinping’s 2014 speech “Three Stricts and Three Earnests,” about how officials should be honest and self-disciplined.

The Yan’an Daily article could no longer be accessed on Tuesday morning. According to a version republished on Party newspaper Guangming Daily, the article counts more than 1,500 characters, including punctuation. More than half of those, according to The Beijing News, were copied from the Xinhua commentary.

An employee who worked at the publicity department of Fu County’s Party committee told Sixth Tone that their employees had made a “big mistake,” and that the article had in fact been ghostwritten by someone else. The employee refused to disclose the name and title of the article’s actual writer and would not answer any further questions. “You can follow our announcement to be published in a few days,” he said.

All Chinese Party members, as well as members of the Communist Youth League, are regularly required to write essays on subjects such as patriotism and key ideological points. In response to the discovery of Li’s plagiarism, some net users offered advice for tackling such assignments. “You should be more careful when copying,” wrote one user on microblog platform Weibo. “Just copy the argument and the structure, don’t copy the sentences!”

Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: Students practice Chinese calligraphy in Huaian, Jiangsu province, July 9, 2007. VCG)