Right di­rec­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - ED­I­TO­RIAL

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.

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