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I just came across this remote position on LinkedIn, which is for an assistant/associate professor position at a certain university in China, see the screenshot below:

enter image description here

I'm based in Europe, and it's showing up on my LinkedIn job feed. I wonder if it's at all possible since it specifies that it's a remote position. Logistically speaking, I'm a bit pessimistic about how that'll work if say, the position holder is based say in Berlin and wants to perform their responsibilities in China - there'll be a time difference and all sorts of difficulties associated with being thousands of miles away. So how does this really work? Is there anyone here who's in a similar position/situation?

EDIT: I messaged the WhatsApp number provided with a no. registered in the UK, and they replied this:

enter image description here

Any comment on that?

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    It is extremely likely that this is simply a recruiting approach, bordering on spamming (even if the postings are "legit"), that are employed by some agencies on LinkedIn. They post these positions in many areas (as you could see from the employer's profile page) but the actual position is not necessarily remote.
    – xngtng
    Apr 20, 2023 at 16:08
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    Doesn't your edit answer the question already?
    – Buffy
    Apr 21, 2023 at 14:15
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    Maybe something like this? fbi.gov/investigate/counterintelligence/the-china-threat/…
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 21, 2023 at 14:28
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    This is basically just spam, in LinkedIn you can search positions by geographical region, and they just insert their positions in China in other regions by pretending the positions are in other regions, but that is generally not true. Just look at the difference between position title and the actual position (associave vs all ranks).
    – Dr. Snoopy
    Apr 21, 2023 at 14:43
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    @ScienceMan "why will a good uni will actually need a headhunter,". I am a native Chinese speaker, (I live in Taiwan, not mainland) I am not too sure Quchou university is a good university. According to this, The country rank is 426, the world rank is 7103.
    – Nobody
    Apr 23, 2023 at 4:01

1 Answer 1

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While I can't know for sure, the US FBI has warned about something that sounds similar:

FBI > Counterintelligence > The China Threat

Some red flags include the up-front payment: they're going to give you a tempting bundle of cash right away, vague requirements (it doesn't seem like they have a specific position to fill, they just want people who fill a certain profile of knowing things), bizarre promises like a "talent title" which they insist is quite the honor, and easily faked duties like "provide leadership in".

I suspect the experience for different people with the program is different. They'll probably only hire you if they think you know something useful. Maybe for some it's a fairly legitimate gig: certainly people have defended the program as no different from any other hiring program. And, it's certainly sensible that a country like China that has access to money and is trying to improve their scientific position would use funding promises to attract talent there. But, similar programs have led to prosecutions in the US:

US Attorney's Office (2021) Harvard University Professor Convicted of Making False Statements and Tax Offenses. Press release of the US Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts, 21 December 2021

Former Cleveland Clinic researcher charged with fraud for failing to disclose China ties. Cleveland.com, 14 May 2020

Long, J. (2020) Former Ohio State research pleads guilty for lying to FBI about ties to Chinese government. The Lantern, 12 November 2020

Barry, E. and Kolata, G. (2020) China’s Lavish Funds Lured U.S. Scientists. What Did It Get in Return? The New York Times, 6 February 2020

Basically, these cases state that the researchers worked "remotely" for the Chinese government, which meant they sent information to China for payment. For example:

Under the terms of Lieber’s three-year Thousand Talents contract, WUT paid Lieber a salary of up to $50,000 per month, living expenses of up to $150,000 and awarded him more than $1.5 million to establish a research lab at WUT. In 2018 and 2019, Lieber lied to federal authorities about his involvement in the Thousand Talents Plan and his affiliation with WUT.

The legal problems came up when the scientists failed to disclose these connections, running into tax laws and laws against lying to government agencies.

I suspect what happens is that, if you are "hired", they'll make sure you get some money right away, make sure you've committed some crime in your home country like failing to report the income on taxes or to another employer, and blackmail by threatening to disclose the relationship, unless you provide information. The standard intelligence playbook would be to first ask you to share relatively innocuous things, but ultimately they seem mostly after information that will let Chinese companies get a jump start on a technology, or have insider information to make business decisions.

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    Upfront payment is not uncommon, even for staff recruited within China. I believe it is standard for universities in China, especially those who want to recruit good staff. Apr 22, 2023 at 9:59
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    This is fascinating (+1) and extremely useful information. I also received a variation of this same advertisement for remote university positions at Quzhou (in Australia) and I must admit that I also found the requirements and proposed position extremely confusing. I agree that it's legitimate in principle for Chinese universities to offer remote positions to Western academics (and there could be many benefits of this) but it's great to also hear these warnings relating to red flags and legal breaches that have arisen from such arrangements.
    – Ben
    Apr 22, 2023 at 21:52
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    @Ben Yeah, another variant is this one: cen.acs.org/research-integrity/… where a researcher is paid to add an affiliation. I don't know if that's part of these Chinese "Talent" programs, but it could be another way for a remote institution to get some "value" for their money, in a manner that is ethically a bit questionable
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 22, 2023 at 22:14
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    Fascinating stuff --- what a great answer. I had heard of some prosecutions like this in the news, but was not aware of the systematic nature of the Talent programs. Thanks for providing such a great answer.
    – Ben
    Apr 22, 2023 at 22:15

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