​Cities' hunger for talent leads to false residency applications

By Wu Jin
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, May 31, 2018
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More than 20 cities across China vying for competitive talent are issuing preferential policy packages, including lowering the threshold for registered residences, in hope of accelerating local development.

In the latest "brain gain" bid, Tianjin municipality issued an intellectual plan on May 16 allowing applicants with bachelor's degrees or higher from full-time universities to settle in the city, as long as they are below the age of 40.

By May 21, more than 5,800 people had already received residency permits from the coastal municipality. 

"The number of visitors to our website exceed 300,000 on the first day the policy took effect, and hit 800,000 as of last Monday. Visits have been so substantial, it has far surpassed our expectations," said Yang Guang, director of Human Resources and the Social Security Bureau of Tianjin.

However, the bureau also noted that not everyone applying for Tianjin registered residences actually plan to settle there and contribute to its development.

Zhang Rui, a native of Jiyuan, Henan province, is among the applicants. Upon graduating from a top university in Sichuan province in 2015, he moved to Beijing, where residency registration is among the most difficult in the country to obtain. Like many migrants, Zhang has stayed in Beijing for several years, despite his official residence still being registered in his hometown.

So when he heard of the policies issued in Tianjin, Zhang immediately joined the legion of applicants, hoping to change his registration venue from his hometown to the municipality.

"I have to seize this opportunity," Zhang said, explaining that Tianjin has outperformed Jiyuan in many aspects, including public services and education. Besides, he added, it only takes half an hour by express train to get from Tianjin to Beijing. 

Nevertheless, Zhang insisted that he will continue to stay in Beijing, where he has already established his own business, pays taxes and holds his social security identification.

"I won't give up my life in Beijing, even if I secure a registered residence in Tianjin," he said.

Zhang is not an exception.

According to China News Service, many people, regardless of their actual conditions, gain accreditation for registered residences through agencies, where their qualifications are considered purely ages and diplomas. 

"We'll help you pass verification through a special channel, and hand you the government approval paper to acquire a registered residence," one agent recently told China News Service in a confidential interview. According to the agent, the cost of the service is 30,000 yuan (US$4,694) per case per person.

However, according to a local official of the Administrative Licensing Service Center in Tianjin's Ninghe District, people without social security identification registered in Tianjin are principally not allowed to get the city's residency permit.

"Even if they succeed in getting one, their qualifications may be nullified once the system discovers the loophole," the official said.Zhang Yi, a research fellow from the Institute of Social Development at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that registering the residence in one place while living in another is a model that may mislead demographic databases that are used to determine the distribution of public resources.

However, according to the researcher, it is imperative to reform the extant registration system because public resources should be distributed regardless of people's location. Residency permits should be issued as records of registration only, not used to categorize people into different groups for different public services, he added.

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