【明報專訊】THE National College Entrance Examination (commonly known as Gaokao), a yearly event, begins tomorrow (7 July) on the mainland. This year the number of candidates is 10.71 million, up 400,000 from last year. Apart from the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year's Gaokao is also very different from those in the past because of the exposure of a string of identity thefts, which have cast doubt on the purity and fairness of the examination. In Shandong province alone, 242 such cases that happened before 2006 have been unearthed. One dreads to think about the actual number of similar cases that might have happened across the nation over the same period. Gaokao is the primary route for upward social mobility on the mainland. Millions of students and their families pin their hopes on the examination as a way to change their destinies. There is widespread concern over the fairness of Gaokao. The issue of identity thefts is not only a social issue but also a bread-and-butter one.