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Professor Ge Jiashu´s Unique Life in Accounting

XMUICE    Public:ICE    Datetime:2010/12/20

On a warm and fragrant day in the spring, students flooded in groups into the conference hall in the Keli Building to celebrate Professor Ge Jiashu´s 65 years as a teacher. Every one of them was eager to learn his secret for 65 years of success in the field of accounting. Standing on the platform, leaning on a stick, Professor Ge said simply to the hall packed with teachers and students, ´Within the ocean of scientific research, I am merely a small drop.´

This was typical Professor Ge - a senior professor of liberal arts, doctoral supervisor, and a learned yet a modest economist and accountant.

Life and achievements

Professor Ge Jiashu was born in Xinghua in Jiangsu Province in March 1921. He graduated from the Department of Accounting in 1945 and stayed on to teach at Xiamen University. Following the founding of the School of Accounting in 1982, he was appointed the first Dean, a post to which he was re-appointed when his term ended. He was also the Chairman of the Xiamen University Labour Union and Chairman of the Liberal Arts Committee.

He currently holds the positions of senior professor and doctoral supervisor in the humanities and social sciences, consultant to the China Accounting Association and to the Committee on Accounting Theory. In view of his great accomplishments in the field of accounting, his thoughts on and theories of accounting are considered "unique" in the world of accounting and by the National Education Commission.

Professor Ge was one of the first group authorised by the State Council to supervise doctorates in Economics. From 1986 right up until last May, he held the position of Vice-President of the China Accounting Association. Many of those holding PhDs in accounting, achieved their doctorate under his supervision including the first group of Doctors in accounting, both men and women, the first from Taiwan to achieve their doctorate, the first to undertake post-doctoral research in Economics, and one currently undertaking post-doctoral research under his guidance.

Professor Ge has always been a pioneer in the field of accounting. His hard work in pursuit of innovation has resulted in fruitful achievements. Since the founding of People´s Republic of China, he has published some 140 papers and 5 collections of papers, and edited some 20 books and teaching materials. He led the only key accounting project under the National Seventh Five Year Plan, A Study of Accounting Theory and Methods within a Socialist Market Economy. On publication, the project received a first-class award at the second session of the University Humanities and Social Sciences Research Achievements in Economics and a third-class award under the National Outstanding Achievements Fund programme. Furthermore,
his second volume of collected papers, entitled Basic Accounting Theory and Accounting Standards received a first-class award at the third session of the University Humanities and Social Sciences Research Achievements in Economics. In 2007, his Financial Accounting: Conceptual Framework and Accounting Standards jointly authored with Professor Du Xingqiang received a first-class award at the fourth session of the University Humanities and Social Sciences Research Achievements in Economics.

In view of his high academic attainments, Professor Ge is listed with his Curriculum Vitae in the Encyclopaedia Sinica of Economics, the only accounting scholar so listed. His unparalleled contribution to the development of economics, has earned him the honorary title of "National Model Worker" by the State Council. The State Education Commission presented him with their "Excellent Teaching Achievement Award" in 1989, and in 1998 he was given the title of "Model Worker" for the second time in 1998. In 2004, the Fujian Provincial Government awarded him the honorary title of "Excellent Teacher".

A pioneer in accounting circles

Professor Ge´s six and a half decades of teaching and research at Xiamen University have won him the people´s respect for his unflinching courage and honesty as a scientist. Now 90, he has made a unique contribution to the promotion of accounting as a science; he has succeeded in demolishing the barrier the barrier that existed between the so-called "socialist accounting" and "capitalist accounting"

Following the foundation of the People´s Republic of China, the people were more than eager to break with the past. Those in accounting circles abandoned western accounting theory as it was ´branded with capitalism´ and adopted the accounting theory of the Soviet Union. However Professor Ge laid bare the shortcomings in the Soviet theory, pointing out that the subject of accounting should be "The movement of funds in the course of expanding manufacturing under socialism". This perception not only established the strict and systematic "Movement of Funds Theory", but also brought fame to the young Ge Jiashu within accounting circles.

In the following years, with the breakdown of Sino-Soviet relations, the radical left applied themselves to criticising everything from abroad, and raising their own theory from these "ruins". In 1978 Professor Ge realised the seriousness of the problem, and resolved on "accounting method" as the way to achieve a breakthrough - at that time, traditional accounting methods had been abandoned under the claim of being "A capitalist way of exploiting workers" and a new addition-subtraction method of book-keeping had been put in its place. He published an article on The Need to Reinstitute Double-entry Book-keeping, in which he pointed out that accounting methods are only a means of recording economic facts and have nothing to do with class. The publication of the article caused great excitement because it stated facts that they had been longed to express but had not dared. The article was immediately considered "the first round of shot in setting things right in the field of accounting."

Professor Ge, being the courageous and responsible scholar he is, carried on the battle, refuting the view that accounting is class-based in a series of articles from 1981 on saying that accounting is in fact simply a "methodology", a common international language of business, and that no one can change the scientific basis of accounting, the essence of which is technical. Ge Jiashu´s approach eventually paved the way for the full introduction of the western accounting methods.

Professor Ge is widely acknowledged as the pioneer in promoting accounting standards. From 1989 onwards, right up to the present day, he has continued to devote his time and knowledge to promoting this standard.

Giving equal attention to research and to teaching

Over the years, his research has continued un-interrupted, while the quality of his teaching has improved. Professor Ge once commented, "The reason my theory is considered ´unique´ by the State Education Commission and the world of accounting is the reading, creative thinking, and innovation behind everything I have produced."

Enhancing the development of teaching material in accounting and training more talented accountants has been another long-term concern of Professor Ge. In the late 1950s, he compiled his first course-book on "Accounting Theory" taking a Marxist approach. To date, he has published more than 10 course-books which cover the areas of accounting theory, accounting principles, industrial accounting, economic accounting and economic effects. Professor Ge not only emphasises the importance of imparting knowledge, but also the moral education of students. He often tells his colleagues and students, ´If we think of time as a function, then contribution and returns can be seen as two factors which are in a proportionate relationship. We should never be overconfident, and we should maintain the principles of being strict with oneself but being lenient towards others, and of being broad-minded and indifferent to fame and wealth.

Professor Ge Jiashu believes that teaching by example is better than teaching by prescription. He gives encouragement to young people and prepares the ground for their development, in the hope that the new will supersede the old. Professor Ge is strict with himself academically. No student of his will ever forget his rules: first, be diligent; second, be serious; third, be rigorous in the articles you publish. In terms of life, he has always been a caring teacher towards his students. He follows the northern Chinese custom on the second day of every Spring Festival in inviting his students to his home, to chat and share a meal with his family.

Unstinting in contribution to accounting

When the world was swamped by the financial crisis in 2008, Professor Ge became acutely cognisant of the concept of "Fair Value Accounting" that arose in the midst of the crisis, and a matter of concern at the G20 Summit, and immediately set to work, publishing over ten papers on the subject.

To this day, Professor Ge Jiashu still concerns himself with a lot of issues: problems such as the reform and development of accounting nationally, and teaching and research into accounting. The one of greatest concern is the training and raising the standard of accountants. He says, "Although the number of accountants continues to grow, generally speaking, they are not well-enough qualified, and further training is essential for them both by stages and in groups.

He may be elderly, but he still has great ambitions; an apt appraisal of Professor Ge Jiashu.

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