China / Society

Chongqing to roll out hukou point system

By Tan Yingzi in Chongqing (China Daily) Updated: 2015-09-08 08:38

In an effort to deepen reforms of the hukou system, Chongqing will usher in a new residential permit system giving urban and rural residents the same access to social welfare and public services, the city announced at a news conference on Monday.

The current hukou, or household registration, system divides residents into urban and rural categories, with unequal benefits in education, social welfare and employment.

"Under the new system, all residents will be registered under the same residential permit and covered by the same basic benefits," said Zhang Zhikui, spokesman for the Chongqing municipal government. "By 2020, the urbanization rate of Chongqing will reach 65 percent."

Urbanization rate refers to the percentage of residents who have an urban residential hukou.

The city of 30 million people has experienced rapid urbanization since 1997, when it became the only municipality in inland China to come under the direct leadership of the central government.

It is estimated that about 10 million rural residents will become city dwellers in Chongqing by 2020, one of the largest hukou reforms in China so far.

Chongqing's urbanization rate rose from 31 percent in 1997 to 59.6 percent in 2014, thanks to its fast economic growth.

In the first half of this year, the city's 11 percent GDP growth rate led China and was 4 percent higher than the national average of 7 percent.

As in other major cities in the country, such as Beijing and Shanghai, increasing numbers of migrant workers are coming to work in Chongqing. The city is also stepping up efforts to push a point system that will allow migrants to claim permanent resident permits.

After acquiring a certain number of points, migrants can change their household registrations to local residency.

"The point system will be out in three months," Zhang said.

Yang Shuhai, deputy director of the Chongqing Development and Reform Commission, said the reform will also optimize the city's population distribution.

Chongqing is divided into five functional areas: the urban core, urban functional expansion area, urban development new area, northeast ecological conservation and development area and southeast ecological protection and development area.

"Different areas will have different policies in residential registration," Yang said.

For example, the urban core area has very dense population already, and it will have more strict policies for newcomers.

As China's pilot city for comprehensive urban-rural reform, Chongqing launched its effort to reform the hukou system for migrant workers in 2010. The policy has encouraged farmers to give up land and houses for an urban residential permit, which was controversial at the time.

Later, Chongqing Mayor Huang Qifan clarified that the reform would attach no conditions about land to the farmers. Rural residents who gained an urban residential permit can keep their land and houses and still enjoy benefits related to rural status, such as subsidies for purchasing home appliances and family planning.

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