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Chinese students losing interest in gov’t jobs due to anti-corruption

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GOVERNMENT jobs have long been prized in China. Most years new records are set for the number of people sitting civil-service exams.

长期以来,在中国,政府工作一直是非常受欢迎的。参加公务员考试的人数几乎每年都会创下新的纪录。

 

Such a career has offered security and perks aplenty. The only drawback has been pitifully low wages. This month officials are to get their first pay rises in nearly a decade; even so, many are heading for the door. Students are showing signs of losing interest in the career.

政府部门的职业既有保障,又有很好的福利。唯一的缺点就是收入低。本月,公务员们将迎来近十年来第一次加薪;但即便如此,仍有很多人想进政府部门。但是现在,有迹象表明,学生们开始对政府部门失去兴趣。

 

The reason is campaign against corruption, the most intense and sustained in the party’s history. It has made it harder to trouser the bribes that have traditionally supplemented those meagre official salaries. Many civil servants now fear a knock on the door by agents of the party’s anti-corruption department. In 2014 it punished 232,000 officials, 30% more than in the previous year. That was still only about 3% of officialdom, but the publicity surrounding these cases has compounded anxieties. Many officials are being taken, with their spouses, to learn a lesson by visiting their former colleagues in prison.  

原因就在反腐运动,这是共产党历史上最密集持久的一次反腐运动。官员们因此难以收受贿赂,而这向来是官员们补贴收入的一种方式。许多公务员提心吊胆,担心共产党反腐部门的工作人员会突然来敲门。2014年,23.2万名官员受到了处罚,比上年增加13.3%,虽然只占到官员总数的一小部分,但是由于这些案件众所周知,因此加剧了官员们的焦虑。一些官员及其配偶被带到监狱探望以前的同事,以便让他们接受教训。

 

A Chinese job-search website, Zhaopin.com, reported that in the three weeks after the lunar new-year holiday in February more than 10,000 government workers quit their jobs to seek greener pastures, mainly in the finance, property and technology industries—an increase of nearly one-third over the same period in 2014. The company attributed this to a new emphasis on frugality in government work.

中国的智联招聘网站说,在2月份春节假期过后的三周内,超过1万名政府工作人员辞职以寻找更好的职位,这些官员主要集中在金融、房地产和技术领域——比2014年同期增长了近1/3。智联招聘把这种现象归因于政府部门一切从简。

 

 Lavish meals are now banned (much to the chagrin of restaurants, which have suffered falls in profits). Governments are no longer allowed to build fancy offices for themselves. Stricter controls have been imposed on the size of ministers’ offices and temperature settings in government buildings. The receiving of gifts and donations of cash, once common features of bureaucratic life, has become far riskier. Earlier this year an investigation revealed the diversion by the Shaanxi provincial government of 89m yuan ($14.4m) in disaster relief funds toward the construction of new homes for civil servants. Officials do receive housing benefits, but not enough to cover the kind of well-appointed accommodation to which they aspire.

大吃大喝被禁止。政府部门不能再兴建豪华办公楼,部级干部办公室的大小以及政府大楼温度的设定都有了严格规定。收受礼物和捐赠的现金以前对官员来说司空见惯,现在风险大多了。今年早些时候公布的一项调查表明,陕西省政府将8900万元救灾款用于建设公务员的住房。公务员们的确有住房补贴,但不足以购买他们想要的好房子。

 

Li Zhong, a spokesman for China’s human-resources ministry, said in April that the report of an exodus was “unfounded”. He acknowledged that some government workers were looking for work elsewhere, but he said this reflected a “normal flow of talent in the job market”. But other numbers also suggest waning enthusiasm for a life of shuffling official papers. For the most recent annual exam for the national civil service, held on November 30th, there were 1.4m applicants, 110,000 fewer than the previous year. Of those, more than one-third failed to show up. There were 40 test-takers for each available position, the lowest ratio in nine years. As recently as 2010 it stood at 59:1. Recent opinion polls have found respondents born in the 1990s to be much less keen on civil-service careers than their elders.

人力资源和社会保障部新闻发言人李忠4月份说,关于人才外流的报道是没有根据的。他承认,一些政府工作人员正另谋他就,但他认为这反映了就业市场的正常人才流动。但其他数字也表明政府工作的吸引力在减弱。在去年11月30日举行的最近一次国家公务员考试中,报名人数为140万,比前一年减少了11万。而且报名者中有超过1/3未参加考试。平均40人争夺一个职位,是9年来的最低数字。2010年,这个比率为59:1。最近的民意调查显示,90后对公务员职位的兴趣比80后、70后等小多了。

 

In January the central government announced that the monthly salaries of civil servants would be increased by an average of 300 yuan—the first rise since 2006, starting at the end of June and with further rises every one or two years. State media trumpeted the increase as a hugely welcome and long overdue improvement for civil servants. But it will do little to boost the appeal of a civil-service job. The modest increases are on a base of monthly salaries below 1,000 yuan for the lowest-level village officials and 7,000 yuan for those at ministerial level. As one government adviser pointed out last year during a legislative session, this leaves the earnings of most government officials on a par with those of migrant workers. Offsetting the pay increases is a decision to end civil servants’ exemption from contributing towards their pensions.

今年1月中央政府宣布公务员的月工资从6月底开始平均增加300元,以后每一两年增加一次,这是2006年以来公务员第一次加薪。但是这对提高公务员工作的吸引力帮助很小。这次加薪之前,最低一级的村干部工资不足1000元,部级干部的工资也仅为7000元。正如一名政府顾问去年所说,加薪以后大多数政府官员的收入水平与农民工相当。与此同时,养老金“双轨制”将结束,也就是说公务员必须和企业职工一样缴纳养老金。

 

Some online commentators are far from sympathetic. Officials’ salaries may be low, they note, but they are boosted by bonuses and subsidies.

网上的一些评论员对公务员们并不同情。他们说,官员们的工资也许并不高,但奖金和补贴很多。

 

Such scepticism would make it hard for the government to copy the example of Singapore, whose bureaucracy the party admires, by offering high salaries that both attract talented people into the civil service and spare them the need to seek illicit income.

这样的怀疑态度使政府难以复制新加坡高薪养廉的做法。

2016-06-24

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