Old habits die hard as officials create “carrot” jobs for their sons and daughters

Nepotism has been around probably as long as the Chinese civil service itself. For thousands of years Chinese officials simply arranged civil service jobs for their sons, and now daughters, on the grounds that this was the natural order of things.

Even today, many officials consider it to be “common sense” that, given that they have been serving at the government for a long period of time, their relatives “deserve to be taken good care of as compensation for their hard work.”

Nowadays, however, recruitment for civil service positions is supposed to be a competitive, equal and open process. Indeed, the number of national civil servant exam applicants has increased by 168 percent over the last eight years to reach 1.46 million in 2010. The most popular positions in the latest national exam were with the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, where there were 723 candidates for one post, according to statistics from a mainland civil servants exam training center.

This new era of increased competition however has not stopped officials from getting up to their old tricks. We are seeing more and more reports of officials rigging job applications to ensure their candidate got the position. This process has been dubbed “carrot job recruitment”(萝卜招聘) by Chinese netizens because officials dig holes tailor-made for their favoured“carrot” (son or daughter) that will guarantee them the job.

For example, the requirements for a job at the Pingnan county toll fee office in Fujian were  so demanding that only the daughter of vice-mayor of Ningde met all the criteria. Indeed, she was the only one who applied for the job.

Similar cases have been exposed in Hunan, Jiangsu and Anhui, as well as in Zhejiang where, according to one internet post, “it is estimated that more than 50 staffers in Wenzhou traffic bureau were employed through internal channels rather than public recruitment procedures.” 

Last September, South Korean Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan offered to resign due to accusations of nepotism over the hiring of his daughter for a ministry position. Yet when we look at similar cases in China, none of the involved officials offered to resign, nor were they fired for nepotism.

As Professor Zou Rong of the East China University of Political Science and Law told Xinhua: “If we don’t treat this problem seriously and hold those officials accountable, China would end up with a ‘collectively irresponsible society.’”
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