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Reform hukou to release society's vitality | Updated: 2013-03-21 22:42

China should continue its reform to give people more chances to change their fate through their own efforts. To some extent, the purpose of future reform is to create a fair society in China, says an article in Guangzhou Daily. Excerpts:

Premier Li Keqiang said frankly in his first press conference as cabinet chief that he benefited from China's reform and opening-up. He recalled the day when he received an offer from Peking University. He was doing farm work in his hometown of Anhui province and he appreciated that education changed his fate and hoped China's future reform can help to change more people's lives.

The dividends of reform have helped many peasant children like Li climb their way up society. But three decades on, the widening income gap and the hukou, or household registration system, is still nailing rural populations to their birthplaces where there is much lower public welfare than for their city counterparts, even if hundreds of millions of them spend years doing the toughest jobs in the cities.

Passing the gaokao, the national college entrance examination, remains the only way for rural students to temporarily move their hukou to the cities where their colleges are located. The problem today is that attending college does not necessarily mean graduates can find stable jobs to relocate their hukou in the cities where they work. Competition in the job market is becoming fiercer and sometimes unfair because personal or social connections play deciding roles. Many rural parents are reluctant to encourage their children to pursue higher education because the playing field is unfair and school fees are heavy burdens for rural families.

When the only viable channel is blocked, society loses its vitality.

Therefore, to release the dividends of reform, reformers should first lift the chains of the hukou system fastened on education and society.

Giving the rural population their overdue welfare and identities as full citizens is the fundamental way to stimulate society's vitality and let more people enjoy the dividends of reform.

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