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Hukou reform lags in urbanization drive

By Zheng Yangpeng | China Daily | Updated: 2015-12-10 07:58

Urbanization, in the proposal for China's 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), is treated as a strategy that will spur the development of industries.

If things go as economist Hu Angang expects, about 70 percent of the Chinese population will be in cities by 2030, energizing many service industries and overall national economic growth.

But the change is not going as quickly and orderly as expected, according to Shi Yulong, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission.

Government data show that, of the more than 1.3 billion people in China, about 55 percent-750 million-living in cities. However, more than 250 million of them are migrant workers and their families, who are not yet entitled to the full residential status granted by hukou-household registration-and the benefits that come along with it.

Under the national urbanization program adopted in 2014, about 60 percent of Chinese will be long-term (more than six months) residents of cities by 2020, but only 45 percent will have hukou where they live.

Hukou reform has lagged far behind the changing reality of internal migration. Urban hukou holders still make 36.3 percent of the population.

To achieve the goal for 2020, China must accelerate the process of changing people's hukou status, Shi said. From 2015 to 2020, it would have to allow 23 million people, almost the population of Australia, to change their hukou status per year.

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