BEIJING - More than one million people took China's national civil service exam at the weekend, officials said, but faced huge odds against clinching one of the few government jobs available.
A total of 1.12 million took the National Public Servant Exam, according to figures from the State Administration of Civil Service figures.
But only 19,000 positions were available, the state-run Global Times newspaper said, meaning that fewer than 1 in 50 candidates will be successful.
The most competitive role was with the National Ethnic Affairs Commission, where 14,384 candidates were vying for just two jobs, it added.
China's current civil service exam is a legacy of the ancient imperial examination system known as the keju, introduced in the 7th century AD and often regarded as a key meritocratic element of the system.
Government jobs are especially appealing to Chinese because they are seen as stable employment and bring with them a range of benefits.
Exams can be taken at different levels of government, but the annual National Public Servant Exam offers the best jobs with the state.
"Although the national civil service exam is more difficult than the provincial, I wanted to accumulate experience for other provincial exams," the Global Times quoted one candidate Liu Yue as saying.
The postgraduate was seeking one of two vacancies at the Tianjin Maritime Affairs Bureau - alongside 800 other applicants.