For over a decade, the craze of Chinese college graduates taking qualifying examinations to become civil servants has remained unabated. An important proportion of graduates view civil service as their top priority in job selection and they spare no efforts in preparing for those examinations, sometimes years before their graduation.
To some extent, this craze is a modern revival of the ancient notion that “those who excel in academics end up in officialdom.” In the present-day China, however, there are complicated reasons underlying this phenomenon. The jobs in sectors other than civil service are insecure and unstable, and employees have to work under greater stress faced with growing competitions in the workplace and the industry. Some government departments are related to monopolized industries and civil servants can enjoy unusually high salaries and welfare benefits. Finally, government officials are usually regarded as occupying the highest rung of the social hierarchy and a student who succeeds in becoming government official is considered the pride of the family, adding prestige and glory to the entire clan.
For all the apparent attractions of the officialdom, the craze of entering the civil service is a distorted one. In the United States, truly ambitious students enter the industry instead of civil departments, where they apply their individual initiative to achieve personal success. It has already been pointed out that, with so many best minds of the nation fighting their way into the civil sectors, the consequences are catastrophic. The civil servants system, with its inherent bureaucracy and rigid rules, would inevitably turn the otherwise energetic and aggressive young people into docile followers of their superiors’ instructions and dutiful but mediocre implementers of executive orders. This will considerably undermine the vitality of a whole generation and the competitiveness of the entire country in the international arena. All forms of craze are accompanied by elements of irrationality and abnormality and, the sooner this craze vanishes, the better.