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Residence permit breakthrough

(China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-14 08:14

Residence permit breakthrough

A fingerprint scanner is tested at a police station where all residents in Beijing will have their fingerprints taken for identity cards, May 26, 2013. [Photo/CFP]

China took a step forward in reforming the household registration system on Saturday, which is good news for the floating population of 253 million and for its ongoing urbanization.

The Provisional Regulation on Temporary Residence Permits promulgated by the State Council, which will take effect on Jan 1, 2016, should provide migrant residents with social benefits such as public health services and compulsory education that were previously excluded them, and make their lives easier, as they will be able to apply for driving licenses, visas and change their identification cards, for example, in the places where they work.

How to provide migrant workers with the social benefits they deserve has long been a concern in China's urbanization process. Thanks to the way the household registration has been managed in the past more than 60 decades, it was almost impossible for villagers-turned-workers to get the access to the social welfare services enjoyed by their urban counterparts.

Despite the long-standing calls for reform of the household registration system, which has long been considered a barrier preventing migrant workers from receiving social benefits in the places where they live and work, it has been a very slow process for the central and local governments to actuate the reform that has long been in the making.

To some extent, this is because of the unbalanced development in urban and rural areas, but it is also because many local governments claimed that they could not afford to provide newcomers with the same services existing residents enjoy.

It is definitely impossible for the unbalanced development to be balanced in a short period of time. Yet, conditions must be created for those migrant residents who have permanently worked in urban areas to get what they deserve for the contributions they make. This is a matter of social justice and fairness.

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