China's hukou, or household registration system is to be
gradually reformed. New policies are under study allowing freer
migration between cities and rural areas, the Ministry of Public
Sources with the ministry confirmed that "legal and fixed
residences" will become a fundamental condition to empower citizens
to change their household registration.
The sources said in the household registration reform proposal
to the State Council, it will make it easier for married couples
from different places to change their registered residence,
Beijing Evening News reported yesterday.
Elderly people who have moved in with their children will also
be allowed to change their registered residency, according to the
Gradually the country will abolish the two-tier system, which
divides the population into urban and rural residents, the proposal
China's hukou system was set up in 1958, mainly to control
population migration, largely from rural to urban areas.
Under the current system rural dwellers have little opportunity
to change their registered residence regardless of how long they
may have lived or worked in a city.
The estimated 120 million plus rural residents working in the
cities suffer many restrictions regarding access to public services
such as education, medical care, housing and employment.
Yu Lingyun, a professor with the Law School of Tsinghua
University, said the concept of "legal and fixed residence" had
focused on the key issues.
"But it should be further clarified," Yu told China
Daily yesterday. "For example, should a long-time rented house
be termed a 'fixed residence'?"
"And methods to prevent property speculation should also be
China has been trying to reform the household registration
system since 1991.
Despite little headway by the central government, local
governments have taken steps to improve the situation.
Twelve provincial-level areas, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shandong and Guangdong, have launched trial reforms that
will put an end to the differentiation between rural and urban
In Shandong, since late 2004, couples no longer face such
barriers as age or marriage length to be together in one place, and
aged parents can move in freely with their children, and unmarried
children can also join their parents without age limitations.
Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province is also initiating trial
reforms in its household registration system, and aims to have them
fully implemented by the end of the year.
However, Wang Taiyuan, a professor with the Chinese People's
University of Public Security, said it is impossible for the hukou
reform to have a unified timetable nationwide.
"Due to the unbalanced economic development, even if the State
Council implements the ministry's proposal nationwide, measures
will have to be taken by local departments according to their own
circumstances," Wang was quoted as saying.
"The main thing first of all is to endow citizens equal rights
to freely choose to settle or not to settle in a place," he
"Then they can be given their due rights to labor or other
activities in the places they stay, and finally enjoy related
political, economic and cultural rights like other urbanites."
(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency May 24, 2007)