Yes yes, corrupt officials are awful, absolutely. And yes, they ruin the lives of people who deserve nothing of the sort. But that's an easy narrative.
Floating above this article is something that needs to be addressed even more openly by Chinese culture. Yes, Chinese culture, not the Chinese government.
I'm Chinese-American and I've had this conversation a million times before, and my position has held true for years: Chinese employers (and Chinese people in general) don't give a damn about education, they care about school. I am never asked "What can you do?" I am always asked "Where did you go to school?"
"Where did you go to school?" in China is basically "Hello." Every person who meets me will arrive at this question within three minutes. Modern Chinese culture equates your school and your diploma with your capability. You went to Harvard, kid? You're PERFECT for our company.
Not only that, but in China, your university is determined by your score on the gao kao, the grueling exam which is taken during high school. Did you do poorly on a single test? Too bad, consider your dreams gone. Not only your dreams but your parents' dreams, because where you go to school determines your parents' prestige level.
The real problem here is that the Chinese education system has distilled everything to the level of grades. This encourages widespread plagiarism, because who cares about the means if the results turn out well? I teach at a university here, and the professors plagiarize twice as often as the students: once a person reaches a certain level of authority, they follow absolutely no intellectual rigorousness at all.
This has extreme complications for Chinese society. Ask anyone who has ever worked at a Chinese company and spoken to their own accountants. If you want
to hear the numbers for the last quarter, the accountants will actually say
"Well, what would you like the numbers to be?" There is an unspoken
agreement at all levels of society to please your immediate superior and get
a good grade. Any methodology is compromised.
If you're American, don't ask why these corrupt officials weren't caught.
Ask why on earth is a man's life predicated on one file? Ask what happens to
a society when it prizes the Gold medal over the discipline to achieve it
New York Times