BEIJING - China vowed Thursday to safeguard the integrity of its national higher education exams by imposing "severe" penalties against people who posted rumors and false reports online.
A senior official with the Ministry of Education said that online rumors about exams for graduate study caused confusion among test-takers, of whom there were more than 1.25 million this year, and affected social stability.
On January 10, as the first day of the annual exam for graduate study was coming to an end, there were online rumors that the exam content had been leaked.
The next day, the final day of the exam, the Ministry of Education said its investigation hadn't found any proof of such leaks. Public suspicions persisted, however, and the ministry conducted another investigation with the assistance of the Ministry of Public Security.
"We confirmed that the exam content was secure," said the official, who declined to be identified.
He said similar cases had occurred in recent years and there had also been cases of people using the Internet to sell purported exam answers.
Under Chinese law, the design, printing and transportation of national exam papers are supposed to be fully secure and strictly monitored by professional staff. For each national exam, educational departments at various levels will inspect the entire process and submit reports to the Ministry of Education.
In an effort to curb Internet speculation during the highly competitive exams, China in 2007 established a system to monitor online rumors.
China also stepped up efforts to combat high-tech cheating by shielding the exam rooms, validating test-takers' identities and barring those found cheating from subsequent exams.