Hukou re­form

New sys­tem would ex­tend pen­sion, ed­u­ca­tion and health­care ser­vices

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By AN BAIJIE an­bai­jie@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China plans to set up a new hukou sys­tem in 2020, un­der which ru­ral peo­ple could grad­u­ally en­joy equal rights with ur­ban res­i­dents in pub­lic ser­vices, said a se­nior of­fi­cial.

The Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity and 11 other min­istries and com­mis­sions have drafted re­form guide­lines for China’s hukou (house­hold reg­is­tra­tion) sys­tem that, if ap­proved by the cen­tral gov­ern­ment, will take ef­fect im­me­di­ately and aim to es­tab­lish a new hukou sys­tem by 2020, a se­nior of­fi­cial said on China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion.

Huang Ming, vice-min­is­ter of pub­lic se­cu­rity, said on Tues­day that the new hukou sys­tem will grad­u­ally ex­tend pen­sion, ed­u­ca­tion and health­care ser­vices to qual­i­fied res­i­dents, both ur­ban and ru­ral.

In­equal­i­ties brought by the cur­rent hukou sys­tem have pre­vented mi­grants from en­joy­ing equal ac­cess to ser­vices in cities. This cre­ates a ma­jor bar­rier for the coun­try’s ur­ban­iza­tion process, Huang said.

Cur­rently, there are 260 mil­lion mi­grant work­ers who live in cities but do not en­joy the same ben­e­fits as those who hold an ur­ban hukou.

The new hukou sys­tem will be based on a per­son’s place of res­i­dence and job, in­stead of birth­place, and it will be eas­ier for the peo­ple to trans­fer their hukou, Huang said.

The main task of the up­com­ing re­form is to re­solve the prob­lems of those who work in cities but don’t have ur­ban hukou, he said, adding that re­forms must be based on in­di­vid­ual choice. The gov­ern­ment should not force res­i­dents to change their hukou sta­tus, he said.

Dur­ing the cen­tral ur­ban­iza­tion work con­fer­ence last week, the gov­ern­ment pledged to make steady moves to pro­mote hu­man-cen­tered ur­ban­iza­tion, seek­ing to bal­ance ur­ban and ru­ral de­vel­op­ment and to un­leash do­mes­tic con­sumer de­mand.

A state­ment re­leased af­ter the two- day con­fer­ence — at­tended by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang — said that ur­ban­iza­tion is the road China must fol­low in its mod­ern­iza­tion drive, and that it rep­re­sents one im­por­tant way of ad­dress­ing ru­ral prob­lems.

The state­ment promised to fully re­move hukou re­stric­tions in towns and small cities, to grad­u­ally ease re­stric­tions in mid-sized cities and to set rea­son­able con­di­tions for set­tling in big cities, all while strictly con­trol­ling the pop­u­la­tion of megac­i­ties.

The pop­u­la­tions of Bei­jing and Guangzhou have each in­creased more than 400,000 an­nu­ally over the past decade, putting tremen­dous pres­sure on the en­vi­ron­ment — for ex­am­ple, by dra­mat­i­cally in­creas­ing traf­fic — Huang told CCTV.

Some lo­cal gov­ern­ments have ini­ti­ated pi­lot projects in hukou re­form in past years.

In June 2010, for in­stance, the gov­ern­ment of Guang­dong prov­ince in­tro­duced a scor­ing sys­tem un­der which mi­grant work­ers would qual­ify for ur­ban house­hold reg­is­tra­tion once his scores reach a cer­tain level.

Mi­grants can earn points based on their ed­u­ca­tional back­grounds, skill lev­els, so­cial se­cu­rity records and par­tic­i­pa­tion in char­i­ta­ble ac­tiv­i­ties, such as blood do­na­tions.

But a change of hukou re­quires them to give up their plots of farm­land back in their home­towns, since only those reg­is­tered as farm­ers are en­ti­tled to the land, Xin­hua News Agency re­ported.

“The hukou re­form will put great pres­sure on lo­cal gov­ern­ments since it will in­crease pub­lic ex­penses for ed­u­ca­tion, health and pen­sion ser­vices,” said Yi Peng, a re­searcher with the China Center for Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment un­der the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion.

“The higher cost of pub­lic ser­vices brought by hukou re­form should be jointly paid by the cen­tral and lo­cal gov­ern­ments, as well as by Sta­te­owned en­ter­prises,” Yi said.

LI XIAOGUO / XIN­HUA

A man’s hukou (house­hold reg­is­tra­tion) is trans­ferred at a gov­ern­ment ser­vice center in Sanhe, He­bei prov­ince. The Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity and 11 other min­istries and com­mis­sions have drafted re­form guide­lines aimed at es­tab­lish­ing a new sys­tem to al­low hukou to be trans­ferred based on a per­son’s place of res­i­dence and oc­cu­pa­tion.

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