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Power erodes justice
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It will become an important event in the education history of China.

It is not only because of the covert way a rural girl's opportunity to study at a university was snatched by an imposter in 2004. It is also because the unscrupulousness and the abuse of power witnessed in the entire process undermine the principles of justice and fairness in the system of higher education.

The rural girl Luo Caixia from the county of Shaodong, Central China's Hunan Province, was fortunate enough to be enrolled by another university in the second year after she passed the national college entrance examinations. If she had given up without another try and reconciled herself to being a villager all her life, she would have never known of the machinations - by the father of one of her classmates - that had deprived her of the chance to study at another university a year earlier.

She was fortunate enough to discover before her graduation that an imposter had used both her name and identification card number. What if she had failed to find out the truth or what if the imposter's father had done a better job to keep Luo in the dark all her life? She is also lucky to be in the age of modern telecommunications and Internet. She appealed to the media for help after her lawsuit to protect her right was rejected three times by a local court in Tianjin, where she studies.

It might be because of the pressure of public opinion that her case was accepted by the local court last week and is now under investigation. The imposter's father who had plotted the scheme has already been detained and so have some others who were involved. At the same time, two other similar cases were exposed. Luo is not alone in becoming a prey of injustice and abuse of power in education.

As is known, the national college entrance examination held once a year has so far been considered as the fairest system since the scores alone determine whether a student should be enrolled or not.

Underlying it is the principle that everyone has the right to receive higher education. The national examinations ensure that the terms of the competition are fair to all candidates aspiring to enter institutions of higher learning or opportunities to study in better universities.

Power, money, connections and other factors are not supposed to come in the way here. In ancient times, cheating or any other irregularity that affected the fairness of imperial exams were serious enough to warrant capital punishment for the culprits.

It was not just because justice and fairness had been violated but because honesty and righteousness were supposed to be the qualities found in all those who receive education. What has happened to Luo is not only a violation of the principles of just and fair competition for access to higher education, but a blatant abuse of power unchecked by both moral and systemic restraints.

Justice will not be done until all those involved in the entire process of admitting the imposter to the university to which Luo was denied entry are duly punished.

(China Daily May 22, 2009)

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