How you know when your anti-corruption campaign is working

The Latin American Herald Tribune posted an interesting piece the other day with the awesome headline “Anti-Corruption Campaign Reduces Interest in Civil Service in China.”

I guess that’s one way to gauge how well the anti-corruption campaign is working, although there are clearly other factors at work.  There were 22,000 government jobs available this year and 1.4 million people enrolled to take an exam to try to get one of those jobs.  This is down from 2013 numbers, which were also lower than 2012 figures by 130,000 test takers. Despite the decrease in test takers, I would say that the demand for civil service work is still pretty competitive!

President Xi has worked to make high posts less attractive, by reducing benefits such as “unnecessary banquets, gifts, first-class flights and other perks.”

While the official media is using the decrease to highlight the efficacy of the anti-corruption campaign, there are some other factors which should be noted.  For instance, to qualify for some of the jobs, test takers must now have 2 years of experience at a post higher than the provincial level.  Also, the article notes that “Over the past few years the duties of civil servants and senior officials have toughened to such an extent that some have died of exhaustion or committed suicide due to stress.”  Wow, that’s not what you usually think of when you think of the civil service.  That has to discourage potential job seekers!