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A Chinese not worthy of Nobel Prize

I remember China launched an ad campaign on Time Square a while back. Other than the well known astronaut, actor, athlete,  there is one person that stood out but I doubt anybody knew him at all. His name is Yuan Longping and he is the father of hybrid rice. Here’s some of his contribution.

There are many who said that China despite its vast size contributed so few innovative inventions.  The fact of the matter is China is still very poor and the research and development it concentrate on does not has as much “wow” factor but is more in the area of urgent need, food being one. And unlike most western companies involved in genetic engineered crops, China gave away the patent for free. This action alone saved millions from starvation worldwide but this news is almost never reported.

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  1. July 24th, 2011 at 13:38 | #1

    “And unlike most western companies involved in genetic engineered crops, China gave away the patent for free. This action alone saved millions from starvation worldwide but this news is almost never reported.”

    At the time of his original work in the 1970’s China did not have a patent law, so it would have been impossible for him to make an application covering that country – the same goes for many of the other countries which his invention benefited (Vietnam did not have a patent law until 1981, Indonesia did not have a patent law until 1991, etc.) . The claim that he could have patented hybrid rice and prevented people in other poor countries from using it therefore seems a bit dubious.

    He did, however, make at least two patent applications in the United States for methods of large-scale breeding which were both granted, and has at least three applications pending and one granted in China under the present law. I have no idea what the licensing arrangements are/were for these patents, but the claim that they were/are given away “for free” does not seem to be mentioned anywhere. Perhaps this is also why it is not mentioned in the news?

  2. July 24th, 2011 at 15:10 | #2

    Yuan Longping and Deng Xiaoping both deserve the prize.

    Unless the Nobel Prize selection committee is made up of international representation, it only reflects the choice and value (and politics) of those in it.

  3. D858
    July 24th, 2011 at 15:24 | #3

    Can we trust the Nobel Committee that much, after they gave the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama for being “not Bush”?

  4. July 24th, 2011 at 16:09 | #4

    To be fair, there were rumors that 3 out of 5 of the committee members were against awarding the prize to Obama. There was some political strong arming going on between the members, who were from different political parties.

    Which only makes the Nobel Prize now a tool of Norwegian politics. Rather sad.

    Considering what just happened in Norway (the massacre of children by a Right-Wing Christian Loon), there is little to admire in Nobel. His legacy is tainted by those politicians.

    Next Nobel Peace Prize should go to someone in Norway for cleaning up Norway’s Extremists, if it happens.

  5. July 24th, 2011 at 20:21 | #5

    Without going into the boundary of what Yuan invented in light of the then prior art (is it one specific species of rice, a variety of species, a specific method, etc.), I cannot say exactly what he “donated” to humanity.

    However, it is interesting to note that Yuan could have easily monopolized his invention by hiring attorneys all around the world and patent his invention in all the major markets (U.S., various nations in Europe, Japan, India, South Africa, etc.) and then holding the world’s farmers in hostage.

    Ok – maybe I am a little to critical of how the patent system can be used, but it definitely has been used as such – by corporations such as Monsanto.

    See, e.g.,

    The World According to Monsanto: Pollution, Corruption, and the Control of the World’s Food Supply by Marie-Monique Robin

    Food, Inc.: Mendel to Monsanto–The Promises and Perils of the Biotech Harvest by Peter Pringle

    The World According to Monsanto (US NTSC Format)

    Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation by William Engdahl

    Patents aside, what’s noble here is that he shared what he had, what he knew – and didn’t keep anything secret.

  6. July 24th, 2011 at 20:29 | #6

    @D858 #3

    Can we trust the Nobel Committee that much, after they gave the Nobel Peace Prize to Obama for being “not Bush”?

    I wonder if the Nobel prize committee would take his prize away if he’s ever convicted of war crimes.

    see, e.g.,





    It would be funny to see a nobel laureate be convicted. It may be him, or the Dalai Lama. Who knows…

  7. jxie
    July 25th, 2011 at 03:06 | #7

    First, Nobel Prizes in peace & economics really blow. For natural science fields, it boggles my mind that nobody from the Soviet space program has won any NP. There is a confluent of factors for that. However, this also shows that for even the natural science fields, the NP is far from a perfect indicator for scientific advancements and achievements.

    A NP is often given years, if not decades after the initial scientific breakthrough. It’s more or less a lagging indicator of a person’s or a nation’s achievement. For instance, check out of the number of Americans winning the NP in natural science fields during the first 2 decades of NP’s existence, and compare now. Judged by the number of authors with Chinese surnames in the latest engineering and scientific journals, it’s a matter of time that China will produce a lot of NP winners.

    Yuan’s net worth is well into 8-digit in US$ term. He is worth some 10x more than a NP award (and some 10x less than the whole NP fund), so don’t cry for him.

  8. July 25th, 2011 at 06:08 | #8

    I think China cannot depend on Nobel prize to be objective about any of the awards.

    I think the award to Obama was the indication of the “kissas*” nature of the Nobel political appointed committee.

    At some point, China must realize, (Chinese as well), Until China has Norway by the proverbial balls (in economic dependency), Nobel will not feel the need to “kissas*” toward China.

    Hate to sound merchantile, but it’s the harsh nature of the consumerism modern society. Very few prizes today mean anything, other than being the pure symbolic “kissas*” the powerful people get from other powerful people (or sometimes people who want favors).

    It’s like those charity awards. The charity organizations give those out every year, just to kiss up to the rich people in the hopes that they will keep donating more money.

  9. July 25th, 2011 at 08:31 | #9

    I am just trying to stress the point that China has to innovate to solve its more pressing problems. Like I’ve said a lot of China’s innovation are considered too low end to be noticed, but Yuan’s innovation here back by the government, prevented hundred million of people worldwide from starving. Something we never read from western press and also not something that would catch the attention of the Nobel committee. It is pretty obvious where their priority lies. It is interesting that Allen raised the point whether they will take back Obama’s prize for starting another war. Well, we are know the answer.

    I am willing to bet China today has more medical teams in Africa than any countries, again it is rarely reported. China also has more peacekeepers under UN than any countries. As this does not fit the impression the west like to give China so it is also never reported. And while China’s banks now give out more loan than world bank, it is more or less written in the typical “China threat” undertone.

    Let’s face it, China is actually ass backward in this worldwide propaganda game.


  10. July 25th, 2011 at 08:41 | #10

    China is backward in propaganda game. I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.

    Some point, China may pick up the game more, I have no doubt of that.

    I see no need to push the message to hard.

    I don’t believe China should try to take the proverbial “Super Power” crown from US in the public image arena. Over selling China will only set China up for unrealistic expectations from the world.

    I personally prefer China to be laidback in the PR image. That way, at least no false hopes from other nations.

    Yes, China is not going to be self-proclaimed “humantarian do-gooder”, or “world police”.

    US and the West can have that paper crown for themselves, (and all the terrorist backlash that goes with it).

    That what happens to people/nations who can’t mind their own business.

  11. July 25th, 2011 at 09:07 | #11

    I think it is a very important measure of soft power. The CCP would never be able to beat the KMT without a favorable public opinion. Xinhua used to be the most popular “outlawed” news outlet. However, its standing with the Chinese people is greatly tarnished after 1966. Although its reputation has recovered somewhat its nature has changed greatly after CCP comes into power, so obviously a new solution has to be found.

    As some one has pointed out, the English news section of CCTV borders on being pathetic. They need to take a page from Al Jazeera or RT. The reason those two are successful is because they provide an alternate voice and thus view. If Xinhua is able to go back to their pre-1949 reporting style and repackaged it like Al Jazeera, RT etc I see they will be successful.

    Well, the budget is already there, I can get English, Spanish and French CCTV news but they are basically just foreign language version of CCTV which is very dry, matter of fact, non-contoversiaol and non-confrontational. Who wants to listen to news like that? The central news outlet in Taiwan report like that too and they are out of business because they can’t compete at all!

    Xinhua simply has to go back to its outlaw and guerrilla root and I have no doubt they would have a place of its own. Chinese TV serials are now so well made (ok the top 10 ones) that they are killing their competition in HK and Taiwan. The who’s who of overseas Chinese movie stars simply has to star in mainland TV if they want to be relevant. All they need is English subtitles and broadcast it worldwide free and people will get to understand the real China. It is a pity they are not doing that.

  12. July 25th, 2011 at 09:36 | #12

    “Xinhua simply has to go back to its outlaw and guerrilla root and I have no doubt they would have a place of its own.”

    Hey, hey, hey, stop giving them ideas. HH is the outlaw here. 🙂

  13. July 25th, 2011 at 09:49 | #13

    Well, that’s the only way to reduce biased and unfair reporting on China. Does anybody want a repeat of the 2008 Olympic torch reporting?

    HH is too much a niche market. On top of being different Al Jazeera or RT all have pretty ladies reporting news, that’s how they got 100,000 hits per news.

    Any suggestion?

  14. July 25th, 2011 at 09:59 | #14

    I guess HH needs some hot looking girls to spice up the news here a bit more.


  15. July 25th, 2011 at 10:48 | #15

    Definitely. HH couldn’t even compete with Fox News in this regard.


  16. September 20th, 2011 at 17:21 | #16

    A video update of Yuan Longping:


  17. zack
    September 20th, 2011 at 20:55 | #17

    yuan longping would definitely be my first choice;
    btw i heard that russian PM vladimir putin might be a contender for this year’s Confucius Peace Prize

  18. Haikun
    February 2nd, 2012 at 18:39 | #19

    Russia today is trash below Fox News but above Xinhau mainland media et al. Al-Jazeera on the other hand does have a lot of good report, especially 101 East and some other programs, of course PRC accuses Malisa Chan (sp) of being a Western running dog but of course anyone who doesnt tow the PRC party lie is in for that treatment

    @Ray yea I know something that will 1000X incease Zimbabwe’s economy, Mugabe regime biting the dust. I’ll give you a Confucious peace prize for that!

  19. zack
    February 2nd, 2012 at 22:33 | #20

    melissa chan is more aptly described as a whore for selling out, and if you think AJE is quality journalism, i think you should realise that High Definition Cameras don’t equate to ‘quality journalism’

  20. Haikun
    February 3rd, 2012 at 07:23 | #21

    @zack while I guess anyone who doesn’t parrot the CCP line is probably a sellout “whore” in your eyes, that makes them all the more legitimate in mine!

  21. February 3rd, 2012 at 08:27 | #22

    What kind of moron are you? You have stated nothing but your opinion here. What makes you think your opinion is the law?

  22. zack
    February 4th, 2012 at 00:04 | #23

    an individual like Haikun has the psychological need to attack an entity their own government has designated as ‘the enemy’ due to a desire to feel like being a part of something they perceive to be righteous and powerful; it’s commonly seen amongst the ‘young ideologues’ who wish to crusade on about whatever the flavour of the month happens to be, whether it be ‘free tibet’ or ‘save the haemorrhoid’. the nationalism and worship of the military amongst the young in most western countries is particularly disturbing.

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