A publication entitled the “CASS Report on a Survey of the Standard Wage of White-Collar Workers,” is a fraud, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) claimed in a statement on November 6. However, even though the source of this false report is being investigated, Chinese media, including the official government mouthpiece, Xinhua News Agency, continue to print articles about it.
A 2005 Web Posting Turns into News
According to NanFang Daily , it all started with a web posting in 2005 titled, “How much would it cost to live a life comparable to 5,000 yuan (approximately US $676) a month in Beijing?” With the intention of reflecting the anxiety faced by Chinese society, more discussions followed. Through several postings, the title gradually evolved into the “CASS Report on White-Collar Wages Standard Survey.”
The post caught the attention of local media, and soon other media followed without any investigation into the source or the accuracy of the report. Since November 3, this news has become a major topic for mainlanders.
The report ranked the standard salary ranges of white-collar working classes in major cities from number one through seven and a range of average monthly salaries from 18,500 to 900 yuan (US $2500 to US $122). Hong Kong topped the ranking, both Shanghai and Shenzhen were second, and Llasa came in last.
The report has created heated discussions between the media and web users. Some doubted the accuracy of the data. Others more often turn the discussion into complaints about government corruption, lack of housing, medical and education assistance, and the inequality between rural and urban areas.
The Academy of Science Joins the Discussion
The CASS itself also participated in the discussion and questioned the meaning of conducting such a survey, the definition of “white-collar” and the “standard wage.”
Finally, after investigation, CASS announced that no such survey or type of research has ever been conducted by CASS and the Academy will be pursuing legal action against the party responsible for generating the original fabricated report.