Civil Servant Pay Scale Reform, Chinese Experts Weigh In

A cartoon depicting people chasing money that climbs up to a "public servant" (government employee) chair.
Written on the chair: "Civil Servant"
A cartoon depicting people chasing money that climbs up to a "public servant" (government employee) chair.
Written on the chair: “Civil Servant”

From NetEase:

What Criteria Should be Used to Formulate the Level of Wages for Public Servants?

Summary: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences expert Tang Jun believes public servants are close to elite white-collar demographic and so should have a comparable standard of compensation. Tang Jun says the average monthly salary for public servants should be around 5000 yuan, with the best reaching 8000 to 10,000 yuan.

Wages for public servants have always been a hot topic of public opinion. At present, our country has over 7 million public servants. The establishment of a scientific and reasonable wage system clearly affects not only the individual welfare of civil servants but also the country’s system of governance and its effectiveness. The current civil servant wage system was put into effect in 2006 and its flaws are becoming more pronounced by the day, while urgent reforms have collapsed. On one side are low-level civil servants complaining bitterly to the media about their low incomes, while the other side is the public “grumbling” about the welfare and perks enjoyed by civil servants. So just what element is holding back civil servant wage reform? How should a new round of civil servant wage reform be handled? What direction should be taken with the overall distribution of income reform? With regards to this, launched a “10 Questions on Civil Servant Wage Reform” series of reports, to investigate the issue with netizens.

The currently “Civil Servant Law” only says two things concerning the wage levels for public servants: “The wage levels for civil servants should be negotiated in relation to the nation’s economic development, corresponding with the progress of society. The state shall implement a wage investigation system that regularly investigates and compares the wage levels of civil servants to their counterparts in the private sector, and use such findings as the basis for adjusting wage levels for civil servants.”

In fact, in the draft of the law put before the vote, there was also a line that says the wage standards of civil servants should “be essentially equal with the wage standards of their counterparts in the private sector”. Because many [National People’s Congress] representatives have raised that there are more hierarchical levels for public servants that staff in private companies and that there are companies with good and bad benefits resulting in a large spectrum of incomes, it is very difficult to achieve basic parity between the wages for civil servants and workers in the private sector. As such, the National People’s Congress Law Committee suggested deleting the above sentence.

Ultimately, all that was left to determine the wage standards for civil servants was the “wage investigation system”. This system that was stipulated for by the law in 2006 has to this day not yet been truly realized, and so current civil servant wage levels actually lack a clear, and legal standard.

In particular, the wording used in the law regarding the relationship between the wage levels of civil servants and “the wage levels of counterparts in the private sector” is vague, saying neither that it should be higher or lower and deleting the “comparable/equivalent”. On this issue, public opinion is divided as well: there are those who believe wages for public servants should be equivalent to the average wages in society, while others believe it should set higher, and still yet others believe it shouldn’t exceed a certain limit/standard.

Expert views:

China Ministry of Personnel Research Institute Wages and Benefits Office Director He Fengqiu:

Wages for civil servants should essentially be the same as workers in private companies.


Beijing Normal University Income Distribution and Poverty Research Center Director Li Shi:

Dislikes current statistical data as too rough to formulate wage standards for civil servants.


Chinese Academy of Social Sciences Policy Research Center Secretary-General Tang Jun:

Civil servant compensation should be based on that of professional workers [white collars].


Capital University of Business and Economics Labor and Economics College Professor Ji Shao:

The standards of civil servant remuneration should change with the industrialization of the country.


Afterword: In every round of debate over remuneration for public servants, there have been calls for “a policy of high pay to discourage corruption”. What kind of wages are considered “high pay”? Is there definitely a direct connection between wage levels and levels of honesty? Can “high pay” actually “foster honesty”? Please watch our next report.

Comments from NetEase:

pwt9889 [网易广东省网友]:

This expert‘s monthly salary should be 50,000, and in US dollars.

网易美国手机网友 ip:71.198.*.*

I raise both hands in support of simultaneously having a policy of high pay to discourage corruption along with cracking down on corruption.

花样做死大赛冠军 [网易天津市手机网友]:

Those who came in and directly went to the comments, ding me.

网易上海市手机网友 ip:117.136.*.*

The moment I saw this headline, I knew there would be something interesting to read/watch [possibly referring to the comments]…

dbc17a2450597be084c129fe [网易江苏省盐城市手机网友]:

How much should retired workers get? I ask that this expert figure that out.

网易河北省廊坊市手机网友 ip:117.136.*.*

I get 7000 after-tax a month and I’m willing to switch jobs with a civil servant with a 3000 monthly salary.

通博天下 [网易陕西省西安市手机网友]:

Everyone register for the civil service exam then.

网易广东省东莞市手机网友 ip:183.22.*.*

I came to read the comments.

钓鱼岛国宾馆 [网易广东省广州市网友]:

If the hiring of public servants were made open/transparent to society, if unqualified civil servants could be fired as well, if an independent agency was used to exercise oversight over civil servants like the Independent Commission Against Corruption were used, if public servants with high pay who still engage in corruption are punished with 10x the penalty of the current criminal law, then I will definitely endorse this expert‘s opinion!

用户uj7ldezyd3ow4q [网易江苏省手机网友]:

The civil servant system has not increased salaries in 10 years. The iron fist of the state being used to fight corruption and a policy of high pay to discourage corruption must be used together to attack the problem. That said, 10,000 a month isn’t really high income, is it? It depends on the area.

护宪办 [网易广东省东莞市网友]:

“Comrade” has changed its nature, “miss” has changed its flavor, “professor” has changed its workplace to the bed, and “experts” have collectively become idiots.

李不白y [一步成诗]:

Along with the intensifying of this new round of reforms, after enjoying government car benefits reform, there is once again a sensible and righteous mouthpiece calling for increasing the salaries of civil servants: “10,000 yuan would be best…” I personally would also like to strongly make the appeal that: “high pay to discourage corruption” is not enough, a series of strong measures such as “allowing multiple wives to prevent people visiting whores”, “distributing housing to prevent housing concerns”, and “eliminating punishments to end trouble” should also be fought for an instituted.

A patriot


Resolutely support! I’d support 10,000 a month for civil servants. However, a dishwasher in America makes at least 2000 USD. So, please increase the people’s wages to 12,000 kuai, and I’ll support increasing civil servants to 15,000 a month, but the law must be changed. Civil servants who corrupt 100,000 or more [probably should be “less”] must be sentenced to life in prison without parole. Those who corrupt 100,000 or more must be executed without pardon. Those who corrupt over 100 million or more shall have all nine generations of their family wiped out. OK!?

网易上海市手机网友 ip:114.87.*.* (responding to above)

I’m okay with that…

tb10074 [网易河北省邢台市网友]:

In college, there are professors who say they are professors but are actually government officials [working for the government], and if you say they are officials, they are professors again. You can say he is ignorant and without learning, but he has “published enough material to match their height”, and if you say he has published a lot, he’s all talk and no substance. You can say he’s a teaching professor, but he doesn’t actually teach many classes, and if you say he doesn’t teach class, he still collects a fee for his class time, and what more, he’s a famous national educator.

赤裸裸的腐败 [网易陕西省西安市网友]:

May I ask, did this Chinese Academy of Social Sciences expert graduate from Lanxiang Excavator School???


Written by Fauna

Fauna is a mysterious young Shanghainese girl who lives in the only place a Shanghainese person would ever want to live: Shanghai. In mid-2008, she started chinaSMACK to combine her hobby of browsing Chinese internet forums with her goal of improving her English. Through her tireless translation of popular Chinese internet news and phenomenon, her English has apparently gotten dramatically better. At least, reading and writing-wise. Unfortunately, she's still not confident enough to have written this bio, about herself, by herself.


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