Read our COVID-19 research and news.

Tobacco Academician Focus of Ire at Annual Convention

BEIJING—The Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) is leaning on a tobacco researcher to quit the prestigious body. The scientist so far has demurred. The issue emerged here this week on the sidelines of the political conventions, known as Liang Hui, at which Xi Jinping formally assumed China's presidency.

Xie Jianping, deputy director of the Zhengzhou Tobacco Research Institute, was elected to CAE in December 2011 for his contributions to the development of "low-tar" cigarettes. Soon after, prominent scientists and antitobacco activists assailed Xie's election and clamored for his ouster from the academy. On 10 March, CAE Executive Vice President Pan Yunhe told the Jinghua Times that Xie has refused to relinquish his academy title, a lifetime honor currently accorded to 764 Chinese scientists and about 40 foreign associates. "We've tried to persuade him to do so, but to no avail," Pan said. In a nod to critics, CAE announced last month that it has canceled the category of "tobacco science and engineering" for future applications for academy membership.

That's not good enough, Zhong Nanshan, a CAE academician and director of the Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Diseases, told media covering Liang Hui. In a formal letter to CAE headquarters, he and two other CAE members demanded that the academy revoke Xie's title. "The issue makes me feel a loss of face. I'm very disappointed by CAE's attitude," Zhong said. Xie was not available for comment.