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China vows severe penalties in college-admissions ID fraud case

THE Ministry of Education pledged today to severely punish those involved in a scandal in which a former police officer sent his daughter to college under the name of a classmate.

This was the ministry's first response to the scandal, which became public after media reports last week.

Luo Caixia, 23, from central China's Hunan Province, was the victim of an identity fraud by the family of her high school classmate Wang Jiajun.

Wang's family allegedly used Luo's national ID card number, applied using her name to Guizhou Normal University, intercepted the admissions letter and enrolled their daughter in her name in 2004.

Luo herself, unaware of the scheme, enrolled at Tianjin Normal University a year later.

"The ministry has ordered local education administrators to cooperate with the police for a quick, effective investigation," a senior ministry official who declined to be identified told Xinhua.

"This was a major infraction of the rules by Wang and others involved, and the incident was a malicious one that seriously hurt Luo Caixia," the official said.

The investigation was still going on, she said. "Education officials who are found violating the rules will receive severe punishment and handed over to prosecutors if they broke the law."

Wang Zhengrong, Wang Jiajun's father, has been detained on allegations that he helped his daughter enter college by stealing the other girl's ID.

He was held on suspicion of forging official documents, certificates and seals, according to the team of officials from the disciplinary, police and education authorities in Hunan Province.

Wang Zhengrong was the head of a township government in Shaodong County when he allegedly committed the ID theft in 2004 and later served as commissar in the public security bureau of neighboring Longhui County.

Zhang Wendi, class advisor to both girls when they were in high school, was also under investigation for allegedly facilitating the ID theft.

The ministry official also said that a senior teacher, Tang Kunxiong, at Guizhou Normal University was found to have helped Wang Jiajun get the admission letter.

"Tang has broken our rules and people like him will receive severe punishment accordingly," she said.

Luo, still in college, first noticed something was wrong this March after she applied for a bank card in Tianjin. She was told by a clerk that her ID card had already been registered with the photo of another girl, who looked like her high school classmate Wang.

Wang Jiajun, meanwhile, had graduated and was working in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou.

"Once the investigation ends, Luo's problems will be solved," the ministry official said.

Wang's degree had been revoked, she added.

The incident reflects loopholes in the education system, said Li Qiang, dean of School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Tsinghua University.

The two Wangs would not have succeeded if everything was ruled by law, Li said.

"The incident happened in 2004. It is less likely to happen no was we adopted a nationwide database of college enrollment in 2005," said the official.

Now, students can apply for college, follow the enrollment procedure and check the results on website Authorities and universities can doublecheck the enrollments on line as well.

"The ministry welcomes the public and media to supervise the work and report such cases. We will investigate every case and publicize the results," the official said.


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