Beijing Municipality has begun introducing a new "hukou", or residency policy which makes it easier for rural workers in China's capital to become registered urban residents.
According to the policy, children born to rural mothers in the Chinese capital after Jan. 1, 2003 can now be registered as urban residents.
The policy also applies to all rural students in the city's higher vocational schools, such as technical secondary schools and other specialized training schools.
The "hukou", or residency certificate, is a form of identification used in all Chinese cities to control population flows. In the past, a person born into a rural family would have their rural identity recorded on their "hukou" and would probably be destined for a farming life.
The new policy is being introduced in the Beijing districts of Haidian, Fangshan and Daxing, and is due to go city-wide on April 1, according to Ma Zhenchuan, Director of the Beijing Public Security Bureau.
Beijing introduced an earlier "hukou" policy at the beginning of this year, which allows rural residents in the city's 14 satellite towns and 33 outlying zones to have urban residential registration.
The city has sped up its urbanization drive since the 16th Party Congress held last November, which set the goal of reducing the economic and social gaps between urban and rural Chinese.
Beijing had registered 33,000 rural farmers as urban residents and employed 36,000 suburban labor workers by the end of 2001, bringing 7 billion yuan (US$854 million) in investment to the city, according to city government figures.
(Xinhua News Agency February 24, 2003)