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Civil servant a popular career choice for young Chinese

11-26-2012 10:17 BJT

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By CCTV reporter Guan Yang

Before the reform and opening-up in China, most enterprises in the country were run by the government and the government decided where people worked. Then "Breaking the iron bowl" ended this and encouraged competition.

A photograph can bring back a thousand memories. A newspaper, a teacup and an old telephone were almost everything for a civil servant back in the days.

Huang Xiaodong, Chairwoman of Forever Group, said, “Many people quit their jobs as public servants for various reasons at that time. It was rare at first, but soon it stopped being a surprise.”

Huang Xiaodong took us to where she worked 18 years ago. Things are still much the same, but the people different.

Huang Xiaodong said, “Most people who worked as civil servants at that time were educated and competent, and the reform and opening-up policy brought plenty of opportunities for them to see what was out there.”

From civil servant to entrepreneur, Huang Xiaodong is now running her own business with an annul turnover exceed millions of yuan. The two are very different.

Huang Xiaodong said, “In business you can always start over, but in politics there isn’t a second chance, any mistake can be fatal. It took courage to throw away what you already had just to chase something you might or might not get.”

But as an older generation left the service, a younger generation is eager to join. The sheer numbers of people clamouring to join the civil service shows that, nowadays landing a job as a civil servant means the most in the sense of security.

Wan Teng, a civil service examinee, said, “I’ve met people who were preparing for this year’s civil service exam. They’ve already had other kinds of jobs. From their point of view a position in a government institution would bring them proper welfare benefits as well as a stable contract."

One expert thinks being a civil servant is more than just a public choice.

Prof. Du Baogui at the School of Humanities & Law, N.E. University, said, “In foreign countries, civil servants work under ordinary contracts; but in China, historically the purpose of education has been described as 'to cultivate oneself in order to rule'. That’s why becoming a government official has been portrayed as almost the only good career."

For thousands of years, Chinese people have known that excelling in your studies can lead to a higher position in society. The country’s civil service exam proves this principle. But when candidates are drawn to the job because it offers more privileges, we should start to ask: What happens if this so-called "iron bowl" breaks?

Editor:Zhou Minxi |Source:

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