If a person were denied a job opportunity because of his or her height, gender or blood type, who would be held responsible?
Two out of three of the 73,176 people questioned in a recently released survey said they had been discriminated against in regards to employment.
The survey was jointly conducted by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and a portal called China Human Resources Development last year.
In recruitment advertisements, discriminative prerequisites of age, gender, height, specific location of household registration and even blood type are often listed.
These tight requirements deprive those who may have outshined, in their practical capability, the people who meet the conditions of the opportunity to get a specific job.
In March 2003, university graduate Zhou Yichao took an examination for a civil servant position in Zhejiang Province. He passed the exams, but was turned down because he carried the hepatitis B virus.
The enraged graduate killed an official with the local personnel department and was given the death penalty and later executed.
In Hunan Province last year, a university graduate was refused a civil servant position simply because he was one centimetre shorter than the specified height.
In another case, an applicant was denied an opportunity to work as a salesman just because he had AB blood. He was told that people with AB blood type were not good at socializing with other people and therefore would not make good salespeople.
In an extreme case, 10 women were forced to divorce their husbands because their firms had a stipulation that married women would not have any chance of renewing their labour contracts. As a result, they had to make a choice to keep their husbands or their jobs.
Surplus supply of labour is undoubtedly one of the major reasons why discrimination in recruitment persists.
The vast pool of labour has made it possible for employers to set thresholds of any kind to sift from oversupplied applicants for the exact type of employees they want.
But some requirements they set do not justify their demands.
Unless the job itself demands a person is tall or short, applicants' heights do not have anything to do with their ability to be a good employee.
Whether a female is attractive or not has no bearing on her capability as a secretary or office clerk. But this is often set as a requirement for a job.
In a humanistic perspective, these requirements reflect a discriminating attitude toward certain groups of people and are often insulting.
In a judicial perspective, the criteria run counter to the spirit of the Constitution, which stipulates that all citizens have the right and obligation to work.
The country's Labour Law says that no citizen should be discriminated against in employment based on their gender, ethnicity or religion.
The law concerning the protection of handicapped people says that the State protects the right of the disabled people to work.
It is apparent that the specific requirements previously mentioned go against the fundamental principle of these judicial stipulations.
We have a goal to build a harmonious society, which must be a civilized one. These discriminations do not belong to a civilized society, in which everyone is supposed to be equally offered opportunity and benefits.
Some suggest that we need a law to specify legal codes against such specific discriminations.
We do need such a law, which could provide victims of employment discrimination a legal weapon to protect their rights and interests.
(China Daily February 10, 2006)