Thousands of Chinese graduates have been taking the new national civil service recruitment examinations. Up until now government departments were free to follow their own recruitment procedures and have been much criticised for nepotism and corrupt back-door methods.
All candidates for open posts in the 46 administrative departments sit written and oral examinations on administrative management and procedures and some students will take further exams in foreign languages, law, computing, and economics.
Graduates are chosen in line with the provisional regulations on the employment of civil servants issued by the ministry of personnel last June. Earlier this year ten central government departments, including the ministry of foreign affairs, trade and economic co-operation took part in a pilot programme to recruit qualified students through exams.
Government departments are expected to recruit new graduates from the universities of other provinces as well as their own.
Many Chinese think that families have to have the right connections or the money to buy their daughter or son's way into a government job. The Beijing leadership is concerned that surveys of public opinion indicate that most people believe corruption to be common among civil servants. In recent years managers in profit-oriented enterprises have earned larger salaries.
The government is carrying out its biggest anti-corruption drive for many years, with 780 middle-ranking officials arrested this year. Prosecutors have handled a total of 12,678 major economic criminal cases such as embezzlement and bribery, according to deputy chief procurator Liang Guoqing of the Supreme People's Procuratorate.
A total of 465 cases involving 1 million yuan or more were dealt with up to last week, two-and-a-half times more than in the same period last year. Mr Liang said the anti-corruption drive was focusing on, among others, crimes by "party and government officials with life-styles and property which are clearly inconsistent with their official salaries".
* China is to increase the number of masters and doctoral degree-awarding institutions this year, in an effort to keep pace with changing and new human resource demands created by the country's continued economic development.
Chinese vice-premier Li Langing called for a "bold spirit" in applying the principles of the country's "Education Reform and Development Programme" to improving the quality of China's academic degree work.
Mr Li, who is also responsible for educational affairs, was addressing the 13th meeting of the Academic Degree Committee of the State Council (ADCSC) recently. It was the first committee gathering following the appointment of the new membership with Li Langing as chairman by the state council.
According to the committee, China has made good progress in academic degree reform over the past few years, but still faces some problems, including the irregular structure of degree-granting institutions in certain branches of learning. The committee said close attention should be paid to the problems and that a careful study should be conducted to solve them.
Practices surrounding doctoral supervision were in particular need of reform, said the committee. In the future the ADCSC will relinquish its power to approve supervisors but universities must adhere to the strict regulations of the ADCSC and the State Education Commission.