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Page last updated at 10:46 GMT, Monday, 19 January 2009

Cheats compete for top China jobs

By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Shanghai

Graduates resting at job fair Dec 08
Job seekers in China are facing intense competition as the economy flattens

In China about 1,000 entrants taking civil service entrance exams have been caught cheating, some of them using technology used by spies.

More than 750,000 people applied for the 13,500 places available.

A job in the civil service is highly sought after in China as government officials are powerful and often make a lot of money as a result.

Across China people working in the private sector are losing their jobs as the economy flattens.

There was a record number of applications this year for jobs in the public sector as it is seen as a safer place to work.

But it is hard to get into the civil service.

Fifty-seven people applied for each place on offer through the annual exams.

Spy-tech

More than 300 applicants were caught cheating while completing their papers.

Officials said some had planted tiny electronic receivers in their ears to pick up broadcasts from accomplices.

Others were thought to have used standard answers they had bought before the test.

Another 700 of those who had sat the exams were deemed to have cheated because their answers were too similar.

Those who were caught cheating were not just disqualified from the application process.

Their names and identification numbers will now be placed on a database used by recruiters throughout the public sector.

An editorial in a state newspaper, the China Daily, suggested they had got off lightly.

It reminded its readers in that in imperial times cheats were executed.

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