Shandong task force to probe identity thefts related to college admissions

Identity duplicity: The two women have the same name but their faces are completely different.
PHOTO: China Daily/Asia News Network

Shandong cracks down on use of illegal means to qualify for college

Shandong province has set up a special group to thoroughly investigate cases involving people who qualified for college enrollment by illegal means such as identity theft, a government statement said on Saturday.

The group, consisting of officials from the province's commissions for discipline inspection and supervision and departments of public security and education, will examine the circumstances of the cases and handle them in accordance with laws and regulations to safeguard education fairness and justice, it said.

The probe was triggered by recent media reports about Chen Chunxiu, 36, whose identity was stolen by another woman who attended college in her place 16 years ago. Chen, from the province's Guanxian county, said she has retained a lawyer to defend her rights and interests.

"We hope that her right to be admitted to the Shandong University of Technology, the school she applied to 16 years ago, can be retrieved," Chen's husband, Li Junwei, said.

"We don't want to hurt anybody. We just want justice and for her to realise her dream of getting into a university," he said, adding that Chen had never given up on pursuing higher education.

Chen's case has attracted widespread attention on Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese social media platform, with tens of thousands of users sympathizing with her.

"Not only hers but her family's life track was changed due to the person who stole her ID and took her place to get into the university," said a message posted by a person using the name Erfentang.

While investigation of Chen's case is ongoing, media and netizens have started to dig into more such claims from Shandong.

On Friday, the province's education department said in a notice that it had recently received tips that some individuals had obtained college entrance qualification by means such as forging their identities, stealing others' identities or buying admission certificates.

The department said it has been verifying the information revealed by media and netizens and will publish results in a timely manner.

The department emphasised that it has always had zero tolerance for such behaviour.

It launched a campaign in 2018 to check the information provided by students who received higher education in Shandong.

Degrees and certificates of those who stole other people's identities to get into universities were revoked according to related regulations, the department said.