Beijing: Nearly 1.4 million people today appeared in China's annual national public service examination for 22,200 government jobs.
Civil service jobs are favoured by many Chinese as they offer relative stability, but the popularity of government posts has dropped in recent years.
However, only 1.4 million applications for the exam were received. The figure is the lowest in five years, according to a China News Service report.
Some 990,000 candidates took the exam last year, a decrease of 130,000 from the year before.
Nevertheless, the exam is still considered as one of the most competitive tests in the country, as there are only 22,200 vacancies in national government agencies, their affiliated public institutions and local branches.
Earlier reports said most positions open this year in government agencies above provincial level will require two years of grassroots working experience.
About 10 per cent of all vacancies will be set aside for college graduates who became village officials.
There were 7.1 million civil servants in China in 2012.