China's hukou, or household registration system is to be gradually reformed.
New policies are under study allowing freer migration between cities and rural
areas, the Ministry of Public Security said.
Sources with the ministry confirmed that "legal and fixed residences" will
become a fundamental condition to empower citizens to change their household
The sources said in the household registration reform proposal to the State
Council, it will make it easier for married couples from different places to
change their registered residence, Beijing Evening News reported yesterday.
Elderly people who have moved in with their children will also be allowed to
change their registered residency, according to the proposal.
Gradually the country will abolish the two-tier system, which divides the
population into urban and rural residents, the proposal said.
China's hukou system was set up in 1958, mainly to control population
migration, largely from rural to urban areas.
Under the current system rural dwellers have little opportunity to change
their registered residence regardless of how long they may have lived or worked
in a city.
The estimated 120 million plus rural residents working in the cities suffer
many restrictions regarding access to public services such as education, medical
care, housing and employment.
Yu Lingyun, a professor with the Law School of Tsinghua University, said the
concept of "legal and fixed residence" had focused on the key issues.
"But it should be further clarified," Yu told China Daily yesterday. "For
example, should a long-time rented house be termed a 'fixed residence'?"
"And methods to prevent property speculation should also be considered."
China has been trying to reform the household registration system since 1991.
Despite little headway by the central government, local governments have
taken steps to improve the situation.
Twelve provincial-level areas, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shandong and
Guangdong, have launched trial reforms that will put an end to the
differentiation between rural and urban residents.
In Shandong, since late 2004, couples no longer face such barriers as age or
marriage length to be together in one place, and aged parents can move in freely
with their children, and unmarried children can also join their parents without
Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province is also initiating trial reforms in
its household registration system, and aims to have them fully implemented by
the end of the year.
However, Wang Taiyuan, a professor with the Chinese People's University of
Public Security, said it is impossible for the hukou reform to have a unified
"Due to the unbalanced economic development, even if the State Council
implements the ministry's proposal nationwide, measures will have to be taken by
local departments according to their own circumstances," Wang was quoted as
"The main thing first of all is to endow citizens equal rights to freely
choose to settle or not to settle in a place," he said.
"Then they can be given their due rights to labor or other activities in the
places they stay, and finally enjoy related political, economic and cultural
rights like other urbanites."
Xinhua contributed to the story
(China Daily 05/24/2007 page3)