sad Li Gang
With the conclusion of the civil service exam last weekend, over a million of China’s best and brightest are now crossing their fingers for a position somewhere in the government. Getting the job might not be the end of their troubles, however, as a recent poll shows that over 45% of Chinese officials apparently feel they are “powerless” in a “vulnerable” economic position.
Beijing-based People’s Tribune magazine polled 6,235 people from various income levels about their attitudes surrounding income and personal security. While polling methods weren’t clear (so the question could have been: Do you feel (a)kinda vulnerable or (B)super awesome?) it seems officials are at least somewhere in the less-crappy end of crappy-feeling. The 45% of officials who feel “powerless” is considerably smaller than the 55% of intellectuals and 68% of white-collar workers who expressed the same feeling.
Maybe that vulnerability stems from the up-and-ups growing habit of making examples of local officials, as we’ve seen happen more than a few times this year. (But hey, maybe they can get a book deal out of it.)
Back in April we heard that about 70% of officials consider themselves to be under “high psychological pressure” and their suicide rates are on the rise. According to the poll this week, primary sources of anxiety for officials included stiff competition, complicated unwritten rules, heavy workload and moderate wages.
According to one deputy mayor, “I have found I am totally different from the powerful man I imagined (I would become),” complaining that “the annual budget for a county head’s official vehicle use is only 10,000 yuan ($1,500).”
Hmm, whining about your chauffeur budget may not be the best strategy for getting sympathy.
Some are calling shenanigans on the sentiments entirely, claiming officials just use their complaints as a form of braggadocio:
But many criticize officials’ complaints.
The average civil servant working for a department directly under the Party Central Committee earns more than 10 million yuan over 30 years, China Economic Weekly magazine reported.
“Officials have satisfied their vested interests and are just showing off when they complain,” a white-collar worker in Beijing, surnamed Cong, said.
“Otherwise, why would so many people try so hard to become civil servants?”
True sentiments or not, it seems that pretty much everybody is stressed. 73% of netizens reported feeling part of a “vulnerable social group,” just one of many indicators of the growing income gap in China.
But fear not aspiring civil servants. There are definitely plenty of officials making out like bandits via a number of shady options. Although their actual income may not be that high, a study last year showed that officials’ “gray” income hit 5.4 trillian yuan (about $797 billion) in 2009. And it’s growing at a rate faster than that of China’s GDP.