The urbanization strategy is meant to integrate the rural population into urban areas, not fuel a construction boom.
THE TIMETABLE THE MINISTRY OF PUBLIC Security has disclosed for reform of the household registration system gives 200 million migrant workers the hope of securing the identity of urban citizens in the coming seven years.
A new household registration system will be established by 2020, according to the timetable Vice-Minister Huang Ming revealed on Tuesday.
China’s urbanization rate is estimated at about 52.6 percent while the number of registered urban residents accounts for only 35.3 percent of the total population. This means about 200 million villagers-turned-laborers are still not registered as urban residents although they work in cities.
But, they not only need to be registered as urban residents, they also need to have access to the social benefits, such as medical insurance, opportunities for their kids to enter local schools, pensions and so on, that such status should entail.
It may be not easy for the mega and major cities in the relatively developed eastern region, where the majority of rural migrant workers are concentrated, to achieve in the coming seven years. Even if they have the will, they may not have the money.
What is needed now are joint efforts from both the public security ministry and other government departments to gradually separate social welfare attachments from the household registration per se because such benefits pose the severest challenge to the household registration reform. The goal will be to extend social welfare to both rural and urban residents in a fair manner through a unified system of basic public services.
This does not mean that villagers who have become urban residents will be excluded from the social benefits their urban counterparts enjoy. It is just an initial step to bridge the gap between rural and urban residents.
Hopefully, there will be fairer social welfare provided to all residents soon, no matter where they are registered, as the huge gap between the social benefits urban residents and their rural counterparts enjoy must be bridged. This is a key requirement for the success of China’s urbanization and the fulfillment of its goal of national renewal.
The systematic debts that have been accumulated because of the rigid urban management system of the past several decades will hardly be repaid in a short period of time.
But the shift of the policy emphasis of urbanization to the development of small and medium-sized cities, along with the reform of household registration system, is meant to eliminate the gap.