China’s public institutions a “discrimination disaster zone”

The vast majority of China’s public institutions (事业单位) blatantly discriminate against job applicants from outside their local area, the Legal Daily reported today.

The newspaper cited a survey of job advertisements at nearly 100 public institutions in cities across China during the first five months of this year which showed that a staggering 99 percent of the institutions stipulated that candidates should have a local household registration (户籍) – in other words, no one from outside the locality could apply.

The survey, conducted by China’s foremost anti-discrimination organization Yirenping, indicated that the longstanding and institutionalized problem of household registration discrimination was actually getting worse and that the worst offenders were the civil service and educational, scientific and public health institutions etc. The Legal Daily said the country’s public institutions had now become a “discrimination disaster zone.”

However, some Chinese citizens are now willing to stand up to such flagrant discrimination. Earlier this month, a 23-year-old graduate from Anhui issued a formal complaint letter to the Nanjing Municipal Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security accusing it of discrimination. The bureau had specified that applicants for a job as a telephone consultant must have a Nanjing household registration. The graduate was registered in Xuancheng, about 100 kilometres outside Nanjing, and was hence disqualified.

In a related development, the government of Guangdong has announced that it will phase out discriminatory HIV tests for teachers in the province. This follows several lawsuits across China over the last year filed by teachers who were refused employment because of their HIV status.

However, simply outlawing HIV tests for teachers and other professions will not necessarily curtail discriminatory practices. The local authorities must be willing and able to rigorously enforce the law and punish violators.

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