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The following statement made in both Chinese and English, which is confusing, is from a microblogger "英语正强老师" of China's social media platform Weibo.com. I want to know what 编制 means.

宇宙的尽头是编制???

At the far reaches of the universe lies the government job.

During the early days of the reform era in the 1980s, there were three categories of government jobs for urban residents: the collective positions (jiti bianzhi), the general positions (quanmin bianzhi) and the cadre positions (ganbu bianzhi).

在20世纪80年代改革开放初期,城市居民有三种政府工作:集体岗位(集体编制)、普通岗位(全民编制)和干部岗位(干部编制)。

The cadre positions were equivalent to the civil-service system of today. At the time, all young people craved an opportunity to enter that system. But by the 1990s that was no longer something they desired.

干部岗位相当于今天的公务员制度。当时,所有年轻人都渴望有机会进入这个系统。但到了90年代,他们就不再渴望了。

5 Answers 5

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What does 编制 mean?

编制 means headcount in English.

宇宙的尽头是编制 - means: There is nothing you can do (to find a position or a job) if there are no openings in the enrollment that are limited by the headcount (编制). "The far end of the universe" (宇宙的尽头) indicates that it is impossible to reach that far.

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宇宙的尽头是编制

宇宙的尽头: the solution to all worldly problems
编制: official title

The phrase is quite ironic, but the meaning is:

有编制 -> 有铁饭碗

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Here is a link can simply answer your question.

编制 refers to the organizational structure, number of personnel and number of leadership positions of administrative agencies and public institutions approved by the institutional establishment management agencies at all levels of the People's Republic of China, as well as the organizational structure and number of personnel of state-owned enterprises approved by the labor administration department of the People's Government.

就是政府工作者,以及国家企业(我们叫国企)的人,叫做在编制内的人。至于编制是什么,应该就是国家企业,政府行政机关(如政府,应急管理局等)

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It is not a simple translation question.

The term "编制" originally meant "to weave" or "to plait," e.g. making clothes from fibers. In modern usage, it also means the systematic organization and planning of personnel and resources within institutions, particularly in government contexts.

Essentially, 编制 refers to the comprehensive (personnel) plan regarding the structure of government departments, state institutions/organizations, and state-owned enterprises. Such plans contains the number of personnel authorized, the specific job designations, and other related regulations like the proportion of leadership roles and required qualifications for positions.

Although predominantly used in governmental and public sector contexts, 编制 is also applicable to private companies where it describes similar organizational planning, but those are less meaningful.

For state institutions, the most important implication of 编制 is that these plans, approved by a superior government authority, become the basis for budgetary allocations for payroll from general government revenues.

There are various specific plans 编制 for different types of positions and organizations (e.g. cadre vs non-cadre, civil service vs SOEs vs special institutions).

For example, 行政编制 (administrative plan) specifically organizes personnel carrying out the basic administrative functions of the government, commonly known as (国家)公务员 (national civil servants). Positions within these plans are subject to the Civil Servants Law with special employment conditions (e.g. promotion, reassignment, salary, termination, benefits). For example, they have protection from termination or demotion except under legally specified conditions.

There are also other types of 编制 that apply to agency staff, educational institutions, and special enterprises that might not offer the same level of job security as civil servant positions but usually still provide more favorable employment conditions compared to the general labor market.

Positions within 编制 plans are highly sought after because they offer stability and favorable employment conditions. However, establishing these positions is not straightforward. It often involves different departments and multiple layers of discussions and approvals, since it has long-term implications on the budget.

Additionally, in many cases, once an individual is appointed to a 编制 position, they are typically "personally" attached to that plan position. This means that unless the individual leaves their position by resignation or promotion, the organization cannot simply replace them or create a new similar position due to the fixed 编制 allocations. It also means the person cannot be "de-planned" even if their position is no longer necessary (or even if their organization no longer exists); the government is obliged to re-assign them to another position in the plan (e.g. in another department). This results in a limited number of available positions, raising the competition and qualifications required for these roles.

Not all employees in government or government-funded roles are covered by these fixed plans. With liberalization reforms, there is greater flexibility allowing for the hiring of 编外人员 (non-plan personnel), who are employed under terms similar to private sector workers and lack the extensive benefits and protections of plan positions. These non-plan roles are typically contract-based, and the employing entity might not directly be the state but rather a contracted company, sometimes owned by the state institution.

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As economy declines people seek a more stable job. The government is very stable. Then nearly everyone wants a 编制 (like a planned position) in the government or government-related institutions. Sometimes people go around trying many jobs and finally end up trying to acquire 编制. This is why we call it with exaggeration "The end of the universe".

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