Zhejiang is hiring several contract-based workers in an effort to improve the efficiency of civil servants.
Five contract workers will be hired by government departments in the city of Yiwu, according to a notice posted on an official municipal website.
Chen Lingling, a director from Yiwu's organisation department, told provincial news portal Zjol.com.cn  the programme was an attempt to attract skilled workers to government service.
The positions are white-collar, and include a traffic control systems co-ordinator and logistics information manager. The jobs paid between 300,000 yuan (HK$377,000) and 600,000 yuan per year, Chen said.
Civil service jobs are among the top choices of mainland graduates, although their popularity has waned amid Beijing's crackdown on graft and an austerity campaign aimed at curbing extravagance. Despite low base pay, the positions offer good job security and carry health care and pension benefits. But the system also engenders inefficiency.
According to a recent survey by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the average annual salary of a civil servant in 2012 was 46,207 yuan, slightly lower than the national average.
Shenzhen initiated a similar scheme on a larger scale in 2010. It hired 3,200 contract-based civil servants to improve efficiencies. Not one contract has been terminated, Xinhua said, implying the system might not ensure the best performance from staff.
The Yiwu government said contract workers would be evaluated over a set period of time.
Zu Lijia, a professor of public policy at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the scheme would create more opportunities for graft.
"It is unclear who is responsible for assessing [a contract-worker's] professional skill and [evaluating] their performance, which is unfair," Zhu said.
Su Zhongxing, an associate professor of Renmin University of China, said senior civil servants in third-tier cities like Yiwu earned no more than 200,000 yuan a year.
"They [contract workers] may enjoy a higher salary and still do nothing," Su said. "The key to reforming the system is the establishment of a mechanism to assess performance, rather than [relying] on the judgment of higher-level officials."