The Institute of Computing Technology, a research institution backed by the Chinese Academy of Science, released its self-proclaimed independently developed programming language MuLan on January 15th. The language was then debunked by some developers after downloading and analyzing the software package, and the core file turned out to be Python-based. Liu Lei, the project manager of MuLan released a statement in Jan, 18 apologizing for his “exaggeration in language”. Liu is currently suspended and under investigation by Chinese Academy of Science for “academic misconduct”.
In an interview with Science Net, Liu claimed that MuLan is designed for applications related to AIoT (AI + Internet of Things) solely developed by the institution, and is a truly independent Chinese innovation. Over the next few days, as more Chinese coders downloaded and tested MuLan, netizens started to argue on Chinese social media platforms Zhihu and Weibo that MuLan might be a counterfeit. After the language was reversed by Pyinstaller Extractor, MuLan was discovered to contain the exact same files as in Python version 3.7.
Liu also clarified that MuLan, as a project led by private company Zhongke Zhixin, was not founded by the government. According to Chinese companies database qichacha.com, Zhongke Zhixin is an education technology company incubated by Chinese Academy of Science. The major shareholder of Zhongke Zhixin is Zhongke Bianyi (Beijing) Technology Co. LTD., holding 70% of the shares. The legal representative of Zhongke Bianyi is Liu Lei. According to Liu, MuLan has been applied to 700 primary and secondary schools in 18 provinces and cities in China up to now.
Created by Guido van Rossum and first released in 1991, Python is an interpreted, high-level, general-purpose programming language. Python’s popularity has recently risen significantly in China as cloud computing and machine learning have become areas of interest in the Chinese tech community.