2017-03-22 11:35:29

Thirteen suspects stood trial on Tuesday for cheating on national exams — the first big case since China criminalized the act in November 2015, state news agency Xinhua reported Tuesday.

In December of the same year, the English part of the national graduate school entrance examination was leaked online hours ahead of the test. Police later discovered that organized cheating groups were responsible.

A man surnamed Wang, a manager at an education training agency in Wuhan, in central China’s Hubei province, was caught sending answers via radio equipment near an exam location on Dec. 26, 2015 — the first day the entrance exams were held.

Police found out that nine students had been caught cheating on the exam using radio equipment through which they received messages from Wang. All of the students were enrolled in a training class organized by an accomplice, a man surnamed Zhan.

Photos of exam questions were originally leaked by employees of the company that printed the test papers. Organizations such as Zhan’s arranged steeply priced classes in which students recite the questions and answers to their exam.

Millions of students take the national graduate school entrance examination each year, competing for limited spots in master’s degree programs.

At a county court in Hubei province on Tuesday, nine defendants — including Wang and Zhan — faced the charge of organized cheating on national exams. Two others were charged with illegally selling or providing exam papers or answers, and the remaining two were accused of taking national exams on behalf of others. All defendants confessed during the hearing and now face up to seven years in jail, according to the 2015 legislation.

In 2016, Xinhua reported that more than 600 exam participants were found to have been involved in organized cheating during that year’s graduate school entrance exams. Police identified five groups and detained a total of 17 suspects.

In November 2016, two men from northwestern China were fined and sentenced to at least one year in prison for providing answers to the graduate school entrance exam.

In a separate case that same month, 28 cheating students in southern China’s Guangdong province had their grad school entrance exam results cancelled —12 of them had entered exam rooms with illegal communication equipment.

To crack down on cheating, eastern China’s Jiangxi province earlier this month announced the construction of 7,000 exam rooms equipped with metal detectors and signal jammers in middle schools and colleges in 2017.

Editor: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Candidates take the graduate school entrance examination at a test site in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, Dec. 26, 2015. Long Wei/VCG)