Home Uncategorized Controversy erupts over Chinese teen besting MIT students in Alibaba math test

Controversy erupts over Chinese teen besting MIT students in Alibaba math test


Jiang Ping, a 17-year-old fashion design student from Lianshui Secondary Vocational School in eastern Jiangsu Province, has become a national sensation in China after outperforming students from prestigious universities like MIT, Stanford, and Tsinghua in the Alibaba Global Mathematics Competition. Her unexpected rise to the finals has stirred both admiration and controversy, sparking a nationwide debate on educational inequality and talent recognition, a report in the South China Morning Post said.
The annual contest, hosted by Alibaba’s Damo Academy, saw Jiang rank 12th among roughly 800 finalists, a group typically dominated by students from elite institutions. Vocational schools in China are generally perceived as a refuge for students with lower academic performance, making Jiang’s success even more extraordinary. “Learning maths is bumpy, but every time I solve the problems, I feel quite happy,” Jiang shared in a video interview with People’s Daily. Despite the praise, her achievement has also faced scrutiny, with some questioning the authenticity of her performance and the potential assistance she might have received from her teacher, Wang Runqiu.
Here is all you need to know about the controversy:
Why is Jiang Ping’s success in the Alibaba Global Mathematics Competition controversial?
Jiang Ping’s remarkable performance has led to skepticism among other contestants. In a joint letter, 39 finalists claimed that Jiang “made several apparent writing mistakes” during a documentary video released by Damo Academy, suggesting she might be unfamiliar with certain mathematical expressions and symbols. They have called for an independent investigation into these concerns.
What is the Alibaba Global Mathematics competition?
The competition, hosted annually by Alibaba’s Damo Academy since 2018, aims to identify and encourage young math enthusiasts. This year’s event concluded over the weekend, with results expected to be announced in August. The competition attracts participants from top universities worldwide, offering prizes ranging from $2,000 to $30,000.
What has been the public reaction to Jiang Ping’s achievement?
Jiang’s story has captivated the nation, with her video interview garnering over 800,000 likes and 90,000 comments on social media. While many admire her perseverance and talent, others, including some contestants, have expressed doubts about her capabilities. However, the majority of online comments are supportive, celebrating her as an extraordinary talent emerging from a modest background, the SCMP report said.
What are the implications of Jiang Ping’s success for China’s education system?
Jiang’s achievement has reignited discussions about educational inequality in China. According to Jiang Xueqin, an education researcher, her story highlights the disparities between rural and urban education systems. Vocational schools, where 70% of students are from rural areas, are often seen as less prestigious. Jiang’s success challenges these perceptions and suggests the need to optimize the talent identification and cultivation mechanisms in China.
Has Jiang Ping responded to the controversy?
The SCMP’s attempts to reach Jiang for comment have been unsuccessful. In her video interview, Jiang expressed her love for math and her commitment to continue learning, regardless of the challenges. Her teacher, Wang Runqiu, described her as a “self-disciplined girl” who spends all her spare time studying math.
(With inputs from agencies)

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