Beijing is preparing to reform its statute on temporary residency which could lead to 3.57 million migrant workers gaining rights equal to those of permanent Beijing residents.
A draft regulation will be submitted to municipal legislature next year, said Ji Lin, a vice mayor of Beijing, while attending a meeting on the management of the floating population.
"Migrants are playing a more important role in the construction of Beijing. They are part of us", Ji was quoted as saying in Wednesday's Beijing Star Daily, adding that "they deserve more services and better protection of their rights".
Despite announcing research into the reform, Ji did not share details on its progress.
Insiders predict the new statute will help residents from outside Beijing win access to more services, now only available to those who have a "hukou", or permanent residence certificate.
The changes will make it easier for out-of-town residents to obtain driver licenses, apply for bank loans and receive social assistance. At present, migrant workers in the capital often face discrimination when job hunting and when sending their children to schools.
People who move to Beijing from other parts of the country are required to obtain temporary resident cards, which helps keep track of the massive influx of workers.
Zheng Gang, an official with the municipal people's congress, says the added millions from other areas are putting pressure on the city's natural resources as well as education, employment, environment and social security.
As a result, authorities have realized that instead of controlling migrant workers, the solution lies with providing better services to them.
(Xinhua News Agency October 12, 2006)