I am supposed to receive research funds from a Chinese university while I am working for a US university. The issue is that the Chinese university, as a part of contractual requirements, requests fund recipients to place the university name before my current university in the affiliation section of my future publications. I understand that it is common to place my current university as the first affiliation and the Chinese university as the second affiliation. Does this affiliation issue matter legally? Or is it just my choice?

Does anyone know how to write good letters of reference into a Chinese university? I have an awesome former PhD student who is looking at a position that exactly suits their experience. Is China like the USA that you can write something that is all praise, or is it like some countries in the EU where you are expected to comment on both strengths and weaknesses? How should the letter open?

Within one week I shall leave my present institution, where I felt severely mistreated around salary payment and work conditions for 2 years, as a postdoctoral fellow.

The PI who signed my contract (theoretically my supervisor) has played passive-aggressive “not-here” all my stay while consistently demanding honorary, corresponding authorship status in any piece I happen to publish, from any source. In fact I had never heard of this person prior to signing my contract from abroad, over which I was dealing with another local professor. They had made some kind of agreement.

Soon I will leave, at the official end of my contract. I am wondering whether I should give this person a symbolic departure gift, especially in front of the other lab mates. I am not culturally hierarchy-oriented but displaying respect to hierarchy is seen as a strong moral virtue, where I am, in China.

Relevant: I am not staying in China, but I might keep in touch with one or two current lab mates after I leave. I am afraid that an act of offering him a gift will communicate a wish to continue “guanxi” which is his understanding probably means I will forever offer him credit over my work, favors.

Please, what do others suggest?

After reading this (Persistent issues with salary pay as a postdoc in China: What can I do?) I am kind of worried about working in China with regards to pay.

On paper, the type of salary advertised by some universities is fantastic for Chinese standards, even Western standards.

For instance, on https://www.mathjobs.org, postdoc/assistant professor salaries are in the range of 200k-500k RMB per year. For Chinese standard of living, this is considered very good.

Is this a realistic salary? Any experience to share? I am a foreigner and do not know much about Chinese academia.

Also, this salary does not tally with what I read elsewhere online and speaking with some Chinese friends. According to them, 100k RMB per year is more of the norm in China for postdocs and junior faculty. The Chinese universities do give some other benefits like housing/research funding though.


I am a 3rd timer postdoc, and had never before had problems with getting paid. Since almost two years now I am enrolled as a postdoctoral fellow in some university around south of China. This is my first experience in Asia, and thus I am not sure of how common this kind situation I am facing is. Communication is arduous, not due to language differences, but a number of cultural traits which are hard to explain.

The facts.
Upon the end of my previous contract, I contacted many institutions for job opportunities. I did not plan on accepting yet another postdoc, but these colleagues here convinced me (>100-long-email negotiation) that I’d be paid a good salary, enjoy a good work environment, and easily take an assistant professor position as soon as conditions allowed. To make it clear, I signed a postdoctoral fellow contract for a 120k RMB salary per year, with a promise of extra 60K RMB per year to be provided by the college. There are some extras on the contract, such as 10K RMB for purchasing a laptop, and some moving expenses stipend (to date, I never saw those).

I was instructed to apply for a visa after signing the contract. I needed a certain official document of which they claim being unaware. After further email exchanges where I had pictures and links about the document, it took 2 months to get it by post. This delayed my arrival by 2 weeks from the start of the contract, but over email they said that was no problem. In reality they never paid me that 1st month while dismissing it by saying “probably will fix that later”.
Another full month came without any pay, and apparently the administration couldn’t agree with the bank on spelling my name, but I never knew details. After many incursions to the administration to find out what was wrong, I was paid ca. 5,500 RMB for the month. I tried to complain but no-one would understand me. Then the confusion took shape.

I will try to summarise below as best as I can. It is really complicated, and everyone tells me “not to worry”.

  • I get paid ca. 5K RMB as fixed salary on the 5th-6th every month.
  • Around the 25th they pay me another instalment which is highly variable, typically within 1.5K-4.2k RMB. (Tends to be higher before long holidays).
  • After one year I got ca. 90K RMB, irregularly paid out of the contract’s 120K.
  • Only after aggressively complaining, hinting a lawsuit, I received 100K out of the promised extra 2x60K. (divided in 3 irregular transfers, made by some 18-y-old undergrad, late at night)

I get more info only by pressing uncomfortably hard. I was once told I’d get 13 pays per year (never happened). Then I was told some unspecified large sum is retained to fund my expenses to any trips/conferences I might wish to attend. I was not clearly informed of when/if I would get the withheld amount. Few other postdocs openly discussed this problem with me, and they said (1 Chinese and 1 foreigner) they had the same issue. The Chinese postdoc recently was offered to move to a new salary regime where he now gets a fixed, higher salary (took him months to tell me).

To make things even more complicated:

  • I have found in my internal access system some separate account originally containing 40K RMB under my name (some “funding” mentioning my name), which is being used to apparently pay internal procedures. Upon asking about it, I was told to “not worry about that”. There are currently <20K RMB left in this virtual account.

  • A PI which is not the person I dealt with over emails is the person who signed my contract. According with local standards I am then supposed to consider him my “leader”. This person is frequently absent, shows no interest in what I do, and refuses to reply any email about my salary/project. Now I am pushed to list this PI’s name as last author in anything I write. My first paper from here is about to come out, and upon the last minute I am requested to ask the editor to finally list this PI as the corresponding author.

I feel like I am being constantly blackmailed over retained promised salary payment. My visa expires within few months. They passively owe me >80K RMB and I do not know what to do. I hear that suing is usually not advisable in China as lawyers ask for huge fees and judges tend to favor local standards and influential institutions/persons, plus the accused part will typically delay forever by refusing to engage.

I wish to ask whether anyone here had a similar situation, and would know what could be done? Particularly in China?

Before you ask: [Further unmentioned issues not directly related to salary finally did not make this a “healthy work environment”. I am now informally told that “it is really hard for some foreigner to get accepted locally as assistant professor because getting a major NSF grant is required, and that depends on significant connections (guanxi) and understanding of Chinese language/culture”.] Not that I was planning on staying longer, but just to clarify.

I have to one select among the three universities for MS in Electrical Power Engineering

  1. North China Electric Power University (NCEPU)
  2. Xi’an Jiao Tong University (XJTU)
  3. Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU)

Shanghai Jiao Tong University has several joint degree programs as
SJTU-Monash University Dual Degree Program
SJTU-Norwegian University of Science and Technology Double Master degree program and others like these.

Please also provide your valuable suggestion about this especially about joint degree programs of SJTU whether they are good or traditional single university programs?

Thank you.

I have an offer from Shanghai Jiao Tong university fro pursuing my PhD. University’s ranking is fairly good as it stands up at 68th in the world and 23rd in computer science. Now keeping in mind the image Chinese universities have I am confused whether its worth it to have a go at this opportunity. My potential supervisor has decent number of publications and experience but he is not a well known personality in the field and just setting up a new lab. Now I am confused if going for a mid level university in US or a top university in China is a good option in my case.

My background is in Robotics and I did my MS from Korea. My PhD topic is going to be an overlap of machine learning and robotics.

Can someone tell me please how good is research funding of the faculty members in China. I am interested in natural science field. For example, will the 100.000 USD $ per year grant be considered a good funding opportunity. What are the approximate grant size and grant success rate in natural sciences in National Natural Science Foundation of China?

Thanks a lot!