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News about ‘political background check’ for gaokao triggers controversy
A student's political background screen format during the Mao Zedong era  Photo:
A local news item about gaokao, China’s national college entrance exam, in Chongqing, a southwestern city directly administrated by the central government, has recently gone viral on social media. The Chongqing Daily cited local examination authorities as saying that those who fail the “political background check” would not be allowed to take gaokao in 2019, and those who apply for majors with specific requirements like military police would be double-checked by public security authorities.

The phrase “political background check” and its connection with the all-important gaokao immediately provoked widespread attention and controversy. Soon, the news was denied by the local authorities. Luo Shengqi, an official with the Chongqing Education Examinations Authority, told Chinese media it was a mistake made by the local reporter and there will be no “political background check” but a “check on ideological and political education”. Luo noted there were no changes at all in the regulations of the national education ministry.

Luo elaborated the review has always been there but he’s not clear if there were people who had been denied admission to university after failing it. “I’m not in charge of its implementation, so I’m not sure about it”, the official said.

“Political background check” is known to have left large numbers of those born in the 1950s and 1960s miserable during the “cultural revolution” period when young people from what’s called the “bourgeois class families” or with relatives living overseas were basically denied all opportunities for academic pursuit or career development.

Nowadays, the “political background check” would only apply to gaokao candidates for a small selection of higher education institutes with special requirements like public security and military. The Beijing News, a state-run newspaper commented if the review’s scope of implementation was extended to common gaokao takers, it would be a violation of legal rights.   


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