Party magazine touts new blanket ID card

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Global Times, May 4, 2011
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China is working on creating a more comprehensive national identity card and database for mainland citizens to improve the efficiency of maintaining social order, a Communist Party-run magazine has reported.

It was time for systematic "perfection of citizen identification registration and management," wrote Zhou Yongkang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in the latest issue of Qiushi, a biweekly official journal of the CPC Central Committee.

The citizen identification system was based on the planned economy of hukou residency registration system, danwei work units, food coupon cards and reference letters, he wrote. The work unit was a place of employment, often within the context of working for a lifetime at the same State company in the same location.

It had become urgent to establish a system to identify a citizen solely by a single identity card, Zhou argued, including information such as social security, family planning status, housing status, education, taxation, commercial and other financial information.

Related departments should deploy the identification card system to establish a national database, "to better manage and serve the country's citizens," Zhou wrote.

A new identification system was only an improvement in technology, argued China Central Television commentator Wang Shichuan, not a breakthrough in population reform.

"Population management is an important part of social management," he said. "However, even if the identification card would be the only reference for a citizen in the future, people registered in different areas would still enjoy very different social welfare such as health insurance, birth policies, education for their children, which is somehow discriminatory and backward."

Wang feared recent restrictions imposed on purchasing cars and apartments by cities around the country may have worsened that social management.

China should learn from the experience of developed counties like the US, he suggested, whose citizens could relocate to any place within the country and enjoy the same social services such as social insurance as long as they had a social security number.

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