Shanghai should not let other cities appropriate our talents
There’s a lot of controversy surrounding the recent news that the Shanghai municipal government will allow graduates from Peking University and Tsinghua University to directly obtain a permanent household registration, also known as hukou, in Shanghai, something which is not easy to get for nonlocals if they do not have a Shanghainese spouse.
I read many web comments on this issue, and it seems netizens dislike Shanghai’s partiality toward Peking and Tsinghua graduates, as they say it’s a kind of “education discrimination” against students from smaller but less-wellknown Chinese colleges, many of whom are as competent as those graduating from the aforementioned two universities.
As a Shanghai native as well as a graduate from the Peking University, though, I would say Shanghai did a good job this time... as long as this is not their only effort to attract nonlocal talents to the city.
After I graduated, I worked in both Shanghai and Beijing, and I’ve seen many of my university classmates also jumping from one city to another over the past several years. Getting a hukou is an important stimulus, if not the decisive reason, behind a person’s choice of which city to settle down.
About half of my department classmates from Peking University chose to work in State-owned enterprises, State-run media agencies or powerful multinationals after they graduated. It might be “unfair,” but they all managed to get a Beijing hukou shortly afterward with help of those companies.
Later, many got married and the majority of them are still living in Beijing, with no signs of leaving despite their random complaints about the capital’s congested transportation. But for those who worked at smaller or private companies after graduation, things are much different.
I, for example, went to work for a private magazine in Beijing after graduation. The company didn’t offer a “hukou quota” for its employees, so I was never legally allowed to become a Beijing native. I think it’s one of the reasons why I and many of my colleagues left Beijing – it’s just too hard to settle down and too easy to leave. With this in mind, the Shanghai government ought to open more channels for nonlocal talents who are thinking about settling in the city. Why should Shanghai sit idle as other cities are trying every possible method – housing subsidies, hukou, bigger salaries – to convince talents to move there?
For graduates who are struggling to find their place in this bustling society, a hukou permission is not only a friendly gesture from our local government, and a compliment of their past efforts, it’s also what will make them decide to work and live in a certain place.
In the past, Shanghai has been very strict about granting household registration for nonlocals. Now they can start with the “policy green light” for top university students and then gradually widen the policy to other sectors.
As a native Shanghainese, I hope people with different talents, not only those with high education but those with wonderful and necessary skills like cooks or park designers, can all come and live in Shanghai. In a word, Shanghai should be a permanent home to those who can contribute significantly to our city.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.