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Rural migrants set to benefit from country's urbanization reform

Updated: 2013-11-20 00:48
By Jin Zhu ( China Daily)

Rural migrants set to benefit from country's urbanization reform

Migrant workers in cities hope to gain access to the same level of welfare services as urban residents. Niu Yuan / For China Daily

Population urbanization, which will offer rural migrants the same public services that city residents enjoy, is the goal of the country's rural reform, a senior agricultural official said.

"Gradually allowing eligible rural migrants to become official city residents is an important task for the country's future urbanization," said Chen Xiwen, director of the office for the Communist Party of China Central Committee's Leading Group on Rural Work.

Chen's remarks were quoted by Xinhua News Agency on Monday.

"Meanwhile, even those who are not eligible at the moment should be granted access to some basic public services."

The country's hukou system, or household registration system, determines one's place of residence. Residents use the system to gain access to basic welfare and public services. The system has long been considered a barrier to the country's urbanization.

Chen made the comments after a decision on major issues on comprehensive reforms that were recently approved by the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

The document promised to accelerate reform in the hukou system to fully remove restrictions in towns and small cities, gradually ease restriction in midsize cities, and set reasonable conditions for settling in big cities while strictly controlling the population of mega-cities. The country will promote the urban-rural integration drive to ensure that rural residents can equally share the benefits of modernization, it said.

For instance, while implementing and improving the most strict policies of arable land protection, the country will grant farmers rights to possess, use, benefit from and transfer their contracted land, as well as the right to use their land ownership as a collateral or guarantee, it said.

The document also made it clear that equal exchanges of urban-rural elements and balanced allocation of public resources will be promoted.

By the end of September, about 270 million rural residents, or half of the country's total rural labor force, were working in nonagricultural industries, Chen said.

"Further reform in promoting the urban-rural integration should be focused on solving problems such as land acquisitions with meager compensation for farmers and unequal wages," he said.

Also, improving public services in rural areas, such as in education, medical treatment and social endowment insurance, will be strengthened to attain a balanced allocation of public resources between urban and rural areas, he added.

Agricultural experts believe that further rural reform is in line with the country's move to promote agricultural modernization.

Currently, many migrant workers, especially younger and skilled rural residents, want to live in the city, but previous restrictions on land transfers mean they have to start afresh, Wu Jingxue, director of the Agricultural Economy Research Center at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said on Tuesday.

"With policies allowing farmers to participate on equal terms in the land market, many rural residents can use their land as a source of capital and make their dreams of moving to the city come true," he said.

Meanwhile, the modernization of agriculture through large-scale planting based on joint-stock ownership of land will take place in more rural areas when a large number of rural residents move to the city, he said. The average of household arable land remains at about 0.3 hectare in China.

"Farmers will be more interested in using more advanced technologies in agricultural production when they are farming on a larger scale," he said.

The country should provide more support for developing labor-intensive industries, such as logistics, as part of a continual effort to attract the rural labor force to work in the city in the future, he said.

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