China is in urgent need of a civil service act to enhance administrative efficiency and weed out corruption, national legislators and legal professionals said.
The civil service system is an important part of China's political system, and its 4 million-plus civil servants remain a major policy-making force, said Zhao Chenggen, professor of the School of Government at Peking University.
The management of civil servants is thus a core issue for the country's political system, Zhao said.
He was echoed by Ying Songnian, professor and director of the Law Program with the National School of Administration.
"The quality of the country's civil servants has great significance for the nation's economic development," said Ying, who is also a deputy to the 10th National People's Congress, the country's top legislative body.
At least 90 NPC deputies have proposed a new law for the civil service during the body's ongoing annual session.
The civil service is managed according to a temporary regulation approved by the State Council in 1993.
Yu An, a professor of administrative law at the Law School of Tsinghua University, said the law should make the civil service system more competitive, attracting the best possible recruits.
Zhao Linzhong, an NPC deputy from East China's Zhejiang Province, said the law should focus on the civil service exam.
Zhao Chenggen from Peking University said the recruitment and promotion of civil servants are the keys to the system.
Departments under the State Council started setting exams for civil service recruits in 1998 and the practice was expanded to government agencies around the country in 2000.
Zhao said the open, equal, competitive and qualification-based examination should be strictly implemented by governments at all levels, noting that some had ignored test results in the past in favor of their own selection criteria.
He further complained that the content of the examination, especially the written test, was too dated to properly assess if a candidate was qualified for a government position.
"More serious problems exist in the interview part of the examination. It lacks consistent standards and specific procedures," Zhao added.
There should be clear, legal requirements for the organization, principles and procedures of the examination, he proposed.
Zhao said examinations should also be used to assess candidates for promotion, to end corruption.
"Without a scientific method, promotions are inevitably influenced by personal connections rather than one's performance at work," Zhao said.
Gui Zhongyue, an NPC deputy from Northwest China's Shaanxi Province, proposed introducing a tip-off system to help identify corrupt civil servants.
(China Daily March 13, 2003)