In September, I will be attending China Theory Week. The official goal of the workshop is to invite "all the brilliant graduates from different universities to communicate, and to present their research results in the field of theoretical computer science". The list of invitees is available online.
Now, this seems to me like a wonderful example of public service. Not only do you provide an opportunity for these people to talk about research, but you make it clear to the world who the brilliant graduate students are :) No need to carefully pour over applications when deciding who to get for an internship, or who to interview for a job. The list of all brilliant students is now online.
Poking fun at Chinglish aside, the more serious moral dilemma is whether to lend any further legitimacy to this government by attending. While it seems standard to treat this sort of questions with great care, I feel the case of an oppressive communist regime is especially serious. Those of us who grew up on the other side of the Iron Curtain are probably particularly sensitive here.
In any case, I am going. My main defense is that Andy Yao is fighting a battle somewhat closer to home (promoting theory), and I can help. I cannot realistically put a dent on communism in China, but I can maybe help Andy's truly remarkable effort to open CS research to the said one billion people.
Speaking of this kind of laudable effort (ping to all my Eastern European and Indian friends), I talked to Andy about it when he visited MIT a couple of months ago. His opinion was crystal clear and memorable:
- going back to promote science is a most wonderful, dignifying pursuit.
- going back without a Turing award is, in one word, "suicidal".