The prosperous Guangdong Province in South China is taking bold steps in reforming the local household registration system, including the elimination of traditional differences between rural and urban registrations.
A circular issued from the Public Security Bureau of Guangdong Province states a standardized residence registration will replace the old categories of rural and urban household registration.
Those eager to get a residence permit in cities in Guangdong will have to meet a host of migration requirements instead of restrictions imposed by the previous system of migration quota controls.
The qualification terms are higher in large cities like Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Zhuhai than in smaller cities.
The reform of the registration system is in accordance with economic growth in the province, allowing the free flow of capital and human resources, especially in cases involving high-level talents.
To attract talents, the new policy stipulates that high-tech talents - including senior specialists with advanced education backgrounds or highly skilled senior technicians with professional qualifications - can be granted permission to reside in Guangdong along with their immediate family members.
Native high-tech talents who are working in primary sectors in cities outside Guangdong and have registered at their working residence are also able to re-register to their original residence if they choose.
Native born college students studying in universities or technical schools in the province need no longer transfer their household registration to schools and can directly transfer to the workplace upon graduation.
Good news for foreign and overseas Chinese investors, plus investors from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, is that they will be granted resident permits ("green cards") in Guangdong along with their relatives in China. Inland residents can also obtain resident permits by purchasing or constructing houses here. Specific qualification terms are drafted by local governments.
Spouses who are separated and living in different residences no longer face the previous registration hurdles. They will embrace the new flexibility that ends restrictions on the marriage period and ages of spouses and their underage offspring in applying for resident permits in Guangdong.
Key cities in Guangdong - Guangzhou and Shenzhen - continue to employ the "controlling total quantity and bettering the population structure" policy that applies to these issues. In the policy, control of the annual population migration plan and elevating the quality of the population are taken into equal consideration.
Both cities will encourage the flow of high-caliber specialists and professionals outside Guangdong via flexible residence policies. Those qualified are encouraged to live in the province along with directly related family members.
The current household registration system, which began in 1958, stipulates that all citizens should be registered at birth at the Public Security department located in their permanent residence areas. Once registered, it is difficult to make changes.
The traditional system, which is closely linked to one's employment, marriage, children, schooling and urban status, has restricted labor, talent and the free flow of capital, and hampered social development.
(China Daily December 6, 2001)