Among China's most coveted govt jobs: earthquake monitor

BEIJING (AFP) - Fancy a Chinese government job? How about the Inner Mongolia Seismological Bureau? If so, take your place behind more than 1,000 other applicants.

The position - only one is available - is the second most popular in China's annual civil service recruitment exercise, state media reported Wednesday.

Every year more than one million people take the entrance examination in an attempt to secure a government post.

Such positions often pay poor salaries, but offer lifetime job security and other benefits, including the chances of illicit enrichment in a country where corruption is rife.

This year the most sought after position of all is with the ministry of human resources and social security, the official Xinhua news agency said, while the third most in demand is as a customs officer in Guangdong, which neighbours Hong Kong and is among China's richest provinces.

Customs officers have wide discretion to set import duties, but the Inner Mongolia earthquake bureau does not appear to offer similar opportunities.

The salary is roughly 3,000 yuan ($470) a month, an official at the bureau who declined to be named told AFP.

"This position is for the technological management department, no special training in seismology in necessary," he said.

Chinese civil servants benefit from what is dubbed the "iron rice bowl", often provided with housing and able to claim expenses for many daily living costs.

Even so 876 jobs out of the 27,817 on offer this year have had no applicants whatsoever, Xinhua said.

Since coming to power in 2012, President Xi Jinping has launched a much-publicised anti-corruption campaign, and thousands of government officials have fallen from grace.

The fact that the Inner Mongolian Seismological Bureau is in the provincial capital Hohhot, rather than a remote township, may have increased its appeal, and posters on Sina Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, suggested the low requirements were a factor.

"This is the only one I could apply for," wrote one commenter.

Another was more tongue in cheek, saying they had applied "because Inner Mongolia doesn't have earthquakes".