Migrant populations should be granted equal rights, says a signed article in Beijing News. An excerpt follows:
Governments at all levels face a tough task in better managing and serving migrant populations.
The municipal government of Shanghai carried out a residence certificate system in 2002, granting migrant labourers some treatments enjoyed by their urban counterparts. In Shenzhen, the residence certificate has included healthcare, education and many other contents. The government of Beijing is also working on a local regulation about migrant population management that has aroused much attention.
It is not only a specific issue of migrant population management and service but also an issue concerning social welfare, public products, management mechanisms and human rights.
For more than half a century, permanent residence registration has been the sole criterion for one to enjoy urban public products such as healthcare, education, employment and social security. Migrant workers, though contributing to the local economy, cannot enjoy such products equally. Sometimes they are even guarded or discriminated against.
Citizens should have equal rights in their country. It goes against social equality and justice as well as basic social principles if migrant populations in cities cannot equally enjoy public products.
Migrant populations cannot have a sense of belonging to the city they live in, which is no good for social order and stability and will bring negative impacts to the management.
Institutional design has decisive influences. Scientific, rational and just social policies and laws will build our society in a positive way. Migrant labourers, especially those who have realized stable employment in the city, should be granted treatment equal to their urban counterparts.
It is notable that the municipal government of Beijing is to include migrant populations in the public health service system. But a broader vision is needed in the above-mentioned issues concerning migrant populations.
Beijing should take the lead in this arena.
(China Daily October 12, 2006)