My friend has told me his own story. He's a researcher and he's trying to publish his paper. His supervisor is a Chinese researcher, but they're working in the states. My friend has written all the code and contributed to everything for the project (including writing the paper). However, his supervisor is insisting to add three professors to the authors' contribution. In the contribution, it's clear my friend is merely a software developer while the other authors contribute the ideas, paper and case studies.
My friend isn't very happy because merely implementing an algorithm would not be a good career path for him. More importantly, those three professors did absolutely nothing, but they did indirectly provide funding for the project.
My friend is a fresh PHD graduate. His supervisor is an average post-doc, he's building his own career path as well. The supervisor told my friend it's normal to add unrelated names, something he'd been doing quite lot in China. In fact, he said everything about research in China is about connection. The more high-ranked names you add, the more likely those professors will "pay back" and find someway to promote you or land you a job/project later. He claims that's exactly why nobody cared Tu Yoyyou, before she won the Nobel prize. She was always a brilliant researcher but she didn't know how to use connections to make a better career path for herself.
My friend was further told that he would have a brilliant research career if he allowed himself be a software developer for this project. The professors wouldn't be happy if their names weren't on it. He was told it wouldn't be wise for him to being "blacklisted": it's not what you can do to make you a good researcher, it's about whom you know that distinguish yourself from other researchers.
His supervisor has written the authors' contributors for the three professors and is about to send the paper to a journal.
Is this normal in the Western world and what should he do?