BEIJING - A Chinese man applying for a certificate of no criminal record had his request denied when police told him he was in fact dead, having been executed a decade ago for kidnapping, a report said.

The man, a resident of the southern metropolis of Guangzhou surnamed Chen, requested the document to apply for a job.

"The police told me that... I had already committed the crime of kidnapping and the death sentence penalty had already been carried out, so I was technically speaking already dead," he said, according to Guangdong Radio and Television's verified social media account.

The mix-up was the result of his having the same name and identification card number as a criminal executed in 2006. Chen, 45, said that he had lived a perfectly normal life until he applied for the background check, even receiving entry-exit permits for Hong Kong and Macau without any trouble.

Police called him last week to explain the unusual situation, and finally issued him with his certificate last Friday.

Cases like Chen's are rare but not unheard of in China, where citizens' unique identification numbers are essential to access the services dispensed by a vast government bureaucracy.

China had 1.71 million people with duplicate ID numbers in 2009, but now only had 10, the Legal Daily newspaper cited the ministry of public security as saying last month. It did not explain why the final few cases had not been resolved.