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Government to Revise Residence Regulations
The Chinese Government will relax the system that has prevented people from living outside their place of birth, but it will not get rid of the decades-old household-registration hukou system, a senior official with the Ministry of Public Security said yesterday.

Bao Suixian, deputy director of the ministry's Public Security Bureau, told a press conference in Beijing: "The household-registration system is an important part of -- as well the basis of -- the State administration."

Through resident registration, the system can help uphold citizens' civil rights and can also provide basic information when the government is drawing up national economic and social development plans and arranging the rational distribution of the workforce, according to Bao.

For public security departments, such a system plays a major function in safeguarding public security and fighting against crime, he added.

The current hukou system was introduced in 1951 and it divides China's population into agricultural and non-agricultural categories.

This was designed to meet the needs of a planned economy and prevent the excessive growth of the urban population. It has been shown to have accelerated the coherent development of Chinese society and the country's economy, said Bao.

But, after decades of development, the two-tier system now fails to reflect the real process of urbanization in the country and is throttling the healthy development and rational flow of China's labor market, said the official.

In addition, the system's loopholes could not fully record all births, deaths and changes in registration details among residents, and this has affected the authenticity and effectiveness of vital statistics, said Bao.

Such statistics provide fundamental data about the national economy and social development.

Since the early 1980s, the nation has adopted many reforms on population migration, which enable rural residents to settle in towns more freely.

The reforms also introduced an identity-card system, speeded up the development of small cities and towns and perfected the rural household registration system, said the official.

The government will adjust its policies on the settlement of rural residents in cities based on legal and permanent residence, stable occupation or income, he stressed.

(China Daily February 26, 2002)

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