University students looking for jobs at a fair in Hangzhou, China. According to an analysis by state media CNBC, 7.7 million people took the civil service exam during the 2023 application period, applying for more than 200,000 government jobs at the national and provincial levels.
Qilai Sheng | Corbis Historical | Getty Images
China’s civil service exam takers hit record highs this year as youth unemployment soars.
According to an analysis by state media CNBC, 7.7 million people took the civil service exam during the 2023 application period, applying for more than 200,000 government jobs at the national and provincial levels.
In China, government jobs are generally considered stable and prestigious. GDP growth has slowed from its rapid pace in recent decades.
Interest in government jobs comes as Xi Jinping cemented his position as China’s leader for an unprecedented third term last week.
Xi Jinping believes that unity under the ruling Chinese Communist Party is essential to building the country. This means that the party has increased and intends to increase its presence in the economy, including among non-state-owned enterprises.
Studying Xi’s thoughts is a growing requirement for schools in China.
Millions of people who want government jobs must take China’s civil service exam — which starts with questions about Xi Jinping’s speech at the party congress, and Xi ponders the multiple-choice section.
Here is a sample question from Gongkaotong, which sells civil service exam test preparation questions:
Xi Jinping’s thoughts on the economy are an important part of Xi Jinping’s thoughts on socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era. How many of the following statements about Xi Jinping’s thoughts on the economy are correct?
① The transition to a new stage of development is the historical direction of China’s economic development
② Promoting high-quality development is a special theme of China’s economic development
③Adhering to the concept of new development is the main principle of China’s economic development
④ Demanding openness to the outside world is the first driving force of China’s economic development
⑤ Intensive development of manufacturing industry and real economy is the main direction of China’s economic development
A. 2 items
B. 3 items
C. 4 items
D. 5 items
The written exam consists of two parts: a 120-minute multiple-choice section on “administrative professional competence” and a 180-minute essay writing section called “shen lun”, which translates as “argument and defense”.
The administrative test includes questions on the report of the National Congress of the Communist Party of China and other rules and regulations. The exam also tests language skills, data analysis, quantitative techniques, “reasoning and reasoning” and “common sense”.
Preference for young civil servants
The state has expanded recruitment at the national and provincial levels from about 15% to 20%, a decision “aimed at easing the pressure of unemployment, especially among college graduates,” Zhu Lijia, a professor at the party’s National Academy, was quoted as saying by state media. Management.
State media reported that in this round of testing, about two-thirds of national-level civil service jobs were open only to fresh graduates or those who had graduated within the past two years and failed to get a job.
Who will hire?
China’s Ministry of Public Security is the largest employer at the ministerial level, according to a plan released by the National Civil Service Administration.
Here is a list of some open positions:
1. Ministry of Public Security of China: 39 posts
2. Ministry of Foreign Affairs: 38 positions
3. Headquarters of the Communist Party of China: 26 entry-level positions. The department provides security, medical assistance, secretarial services to the top leadership of the party and government.
4. Cyberspace Administration of China: 20 positions, 12 of which work in the Internet Security Operational Command Center. The regulator monitors content and has the power to remove apps from app stores.
China’s National Civil Service Administration could not be reached for comment despite repeated attempts by CNBC.
No need to criticize senior leaders
The Chinese civil service examination has its roots in China’s 6th century imperial examination system.
Under this system, scholars would pass a series of tests to obtain government positions—a process that was considered to give everyone a fair chance to rise in the social hierarchy.
The current examination system in the country was adopted in 1993, and in 2005 it became mandatory for all civil servants.
However, Xi and other senior executives did not need to pass the civil service exam to get their current roles.
According to the law, only “non-executive, non-executive civil servants and persons below the level of equivalent positions” take the test, not senior executives.
In China, the president, vice president, chairman of the Central Military Commission, and other top government positions are chosen through a process in which national delegates debate and nominate one candidate for each role.
Xi won an unprecedented third term on Friday through the process.
At the provincial or lower level, government leaders may face at most one competing candidate for each role.
Civil servants in China earn very modest salaries.
But they are usually guaranteed a job with a high social status for life. Discount treatment includes festival bonus pay, better health insurance and a higher pension that does not require personal contributions.
Exact salary figures remain a sensitive topic.
We will expand employment channels to help young people realize their personal worth through hard work.
The latest figures released by state media showed that in 2012, civil servants earned an average of 48,608 yuan ($6,979) a year. The reports also showed that Xi Jinping received 136,620 yuan a year in 2015.
As a rough comparison, according to official data, the per capita salary of city residents in 2022 was 20,590 yuan. Salaries in China vary by region and type of job.
Despite long-term predictions of a shrinking population and labor force, the number of university graduates in China has risen to record levels in the past few years.
“From an employment perspective, there is some pressure,” Premier Li Qiang said Monday at his first news conference in the role, according to a Chinese translation by CNBC.
“We will expand employment channels to help young people realize their personal worth through hard work.”