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Hukou reforms under consultations, no timetable set yet
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On Tuesday the local newspaper Chengdu Shangbao reported that, led by the State Council, 14 ministries, including the Ministry of Public Security, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, are all considering a proposal on hukou (household registration) reforms, according to Wu Heping, spokesman from the Ministry of Public Security.

However, the spokesman refused to give a specific timetable for any breakthrough reforms, the report stated.

It has been revealed that the goal of the proposed reforms is threefold: to establish a unified urban and rural household registration system, relax restrictions on migrants and guide the rational and orderly flow of residents.

In recent years, the public has expressed many concerns over the household registration system and some have even criticized the reform as "too slow."

"In fact, the public security organs at all levels and relevant departments have been actively doing research and promoting this matter (household registration reform). We are not, as some people think, delaying the matter," Wu noted yesterday.

"Some trial reforms have already been implemented in many provinces and cities for years," Wu said.

Wu admits that the difficulty for hukou system reform revolves around eliminating the development gap between rural and urban areas. "It's impossible to root out the existing gap in a short time."

At present, the Ministry has worked out a draft for further reform of the hukou system, but it still needs further amendments and improvements before it is submitted to the State Council.

Sources from the Ministry of Public Security revealed that the draft focuses on four aspects to push forward the reform, including:

A: Strengthening the infrastructure involved in household registration management and establishing a unified hukou registration system.

B: Adjusting migration policies. Having a "legal and fixed place of residence and stable work" will be used as the basic requirement for determining whether migrants can shift their hukou registration to small-city and township urban areas.

C: Mega-cities and major cities must maintain an appropriate population growth rate. Proper incentives should be made to absorb the rural population in surrounding areas, with downtown residents directed toward satellite towns, thus promoting the formation of a rational population layout and city expansion.

D: Speeding up the pace for the household registration legislation. The existing "Household Registration Ordinance" is partly in conflict with the contents of the new Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure Law. Meanwhile, the current migration policies and the "measures for temporary residence permits application" have already violated the "ordinance" to some extent. In this regard, it is necessary to actively carry out research work toward implementing a new law on household registration based on extensively soliciting public opinions, and striving for a timely introduction of the household registration law.

(China.org.cn by Wang Zhiyong, March 4, 2008)

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