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Rules on travel to loosen
( 2003-08-08 10:13) (China Daily)

Chinese people will soon find it easier to live and travel where they choose under changes to take effect within months.

The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) announced yesterday it will introduce 30 reforms involving household registration, travel, traffic management and fire control.

China will ease household registration rules in its vast western areas to encourage university graduates and investors to migrate and invest there, said Bai Jingfu, vice-minister for public security, at a press conference yesterday.

According to the new measures, college graduates and investors can either transfer their registered place of residence to the western regions where they are working or back to their original domicile.

Senior professionals who have registered their residence in large or medium-sized cities and decide to work in small towns or rural areas may retain their urban residence registration.

Since China adopted its reform and opening-up policy, there has been a two-way population flow, Bai said. One is from rural areas to cities and the other is vice versa. The MPS will conduct more research to deal with the restrictions on temporary residence rights of migrant people, he stressed.

Parents can choose to register their newborns in either the mother or father's place of residence, according to the announcement.

People who have been abroad for more than one year will also no longer have their registered residence cancelled, it said.

Bai said the government will make it easier for urban citizens to obtain passports - a process that for many still requires permission from employers and officials in their hometowns.

By the end of this year, the number of cities where residents can apply for passports at will is to expand from 25 to 100, accounting for one-third of all Chinese cities, Bai said.

In another development, the ministry will also ease restrictions on travel to and study in Hong Kong and Macao by some mainland residents to boost tourism and trade.

Residents in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong can visit Hong Kong and Macao as individuals, dropping a requirement for them to travel in groups, Bai said.

Of the 30 changes announced yesterday, 17 involve traffic administration ranging from the issuance of driving licences and reform of licence plate management to simplification of vehicle registration.

For example, the age limit of people permitted to take a driving test and obtain a licence will now be extended from 60 to 70 years, the statement said.

Some of the measures will take effect from September 1 this year or January 1 next year, according to the announcement.

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