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Chinese blind's blank exam papers spark debate

ZHENGZHOU, June 9 (Xinhua) -- The performance of the only blind candidate to take China's college entrance exam over the weekend has brought controversy to the annual battle of the brains.

Li Jinsheng, 46, a masseur, took the exam in Braille, in Queshan County in central China's Henan Province.

The exam, known as "Gaokao," attracted nearly 9.4 million participants chasing 6.98 million places in universities and colleges. Unlike most, Li handed in two blank papers and completed only a very small portion of two other exams even though his time was extended by up to 40 minutes.

He did not have the time to answer even one question during the Chinese and math exams as he spent almost all the time reading the exam rules.

Li's chance did not come easy. Exam authorities spent nearly half a year preparing test papers for blind candidates, said Jiang Gang, director of the exam center of the Ministry of Education. "All of the work was aimed at making it easier for blind people to take the exam," Jiang said: "It is not just for one person. We need to provide disabled candidates with equal access to higher education."

Despite the blank papers, many still see the event as some kind of success. Li was the first blind person ever to take the college entrance exam.

For the blind, it was already a victory to have someone take the exam, a step forward for education equality. "The chance itself is far more important than score," said a Weibo user named "Luo Chongmin"

"He won the right for blind people and even though he turned in blank exam papers, it should still be hailed as a victory," said another Weibo user named "Woshisanxing".

Weibo user "Mr Zhao Wen from Lanzhou" said authorities should provide more humanized exam services.

Li asked for e-papers so that he would be able to take the exam questions on a computer, but was declined on the basis that technology would not allow.

A celebration for some brought gripes from others. "It was a waste of state resources, a publicity stunt and a disgraceful act," commented one Weibo user named "Qiyefeng".

Li, however, said: "It was a disgrace to hand in blank papers, but it was a glory to help win the right for the blind.

"I do not expect everyone to understand me, but I just hope blind people's right to take the exam will be respected," he said.

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