Government and Policy

Mayor vows to resolve hukou issue in two years

By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-06 07:58
Large Medium Small

BEIJING - He is passionate in his insistence to get migrant workers the same "perks and privileges" as urban residents, ambitious about providing adequate housing for those who dream of owning a home, and loves working with Bo Xilai, the Chongqing Party chief, who orchestrated a sweeping crackdown on gang crimes.

Meet Huang Qifan, the new mayor of Chongqing, who is in Beijing to attend the annual session of the National People's Congress, which opened Friday.

"We are getting along with each other very well, and (working) in high spirits," Huang, 57, told reporters when asked what it was like working with Bo in running China's largest municipality.

Mayor vows to resolve hukou issue in two years
Huang Qifan, Mayor of Chongqing

He said at a press conference Thursday night that he took to working with Bo, secretary of the Chongqing municipal committee of the Communist Party of China, "like a duck takes to water".

Huang, who is also a national legislator, arrived at the press conference, which more than 60 media organizations attended, without Bo.

Under Bo's leadership, Chongqing launched a sweeping anti-gang crusade last year, rounding up dozens of ringleaders and corrupt officials, including former deputy police chief Wen Qiang.

"Over the past 12 years, ever since Chongqing was designated as a direct municipality (under the central government), every administration has worked to bust crimes and uproot evils of society," Huang said.

But Wen Qiang jeopardized the effort, he added.

Wen, who served as a senior police officer in Chongqing for 16 years, gave protection to gangs, offered posts to officials, and helped companies and businessmen obtain gains and evade police investigations, the Xinhua News Agency quoted prosecutors as saying last month.

The drive to fight crime has contributed to Chongqing's economic growth, Huang said.

The municipality, with a population of about 30 million, may now be a safer place. But like other large cities, Chongqing is home to several million migrant workers, most of whom have toiled in the city for more than a decade, but have yet to be granted hukou (permanent residence permits).

Huang said he "cannot wait to help them, for, they have contributed to the municipality's prosperity".

"Some farmers have worked in the city for 20 years, and they still don't have a hukou. This is extremely unfair," he said.

It is "gross discrimination" against farmers, who, after having outlived their usefulness, are left with no choice but to leave the city to retire in the countryside, he said.

In China, an urban hukou comes with perks like education, medical care, pension, employment and housing benefits. Without the permit, migrant workers are virtually deprived of all such privileges.

Chongqing will not only give residence permits to the migrant workers - and their families - who have worked for more than 10 years in the city, but also provide finances to make sure they have as many perks as urban residents, Huang said.

"In two years, we plan to resolve the hukou issue for some 3 million people," he said.

Those who cannot afford to buy a house can apply to live in "public leasing houses", Huang said.

In the coming 10 years, Chongqing will build 40 million square meters of housing, which will be leased to the public.

The government's goal is to guarantee that low-income dwellers, who account for at least 30 percent of the city's total population, live in decent government-funded houses, he said.