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Zhengzhou Restricts Household Registrations

Facing a heavy population burden brought by looser household registration controls, the once newcomer-friendly city of Zhengzhou has been forced to shut its gates on many potential migrants since late August, the China Youth Daily reported Wednesday.

The municipal government of Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province in Central China, introduced a new household registration scheme in August last year, which allowed migrants household registration if they had relatives in the city.

However, the new policy was halted after just a year as it swelled the city's population by 150,000 newly registered citizens.

The China Youth Daily report says the move to limit household registrations aims to relieve the burden on the city's traffic, education, healthcare and other public sectors.

As a result, only those directly related to a Zhengzhou citizen, such as a parent, spouse or child, can now get household registration in the city.

But people who have a legal permanent address and legal steady work and income can still apply to settle in Zhengzhou.

In the past, the old rigid system tied people to their place of birth throughout their lifetimes.

The rapid population increase, thanks to the new household registration policy, has taken its toll on the city's public transport system. The city has issued 800,000 preferential bus passes in the last two years, which is much higher than the expected figure of 200,000, says the China Youth Daily report.

Moreover, the city's education resources have become very tight since educational investment has a hard time keeping up with the population expansion.

In some preliminary schools of downtown Zhengzhou, the number of pupils in a class can top 90, which is almost double that of the normal standard.

The city's social insurance also faces more challenges since some of the newcomers are eligible for government subsidies.

Experts say the reform of the household registration system is a mark of social progress in the course of urbanization. But the reform can only go smoothly if urban facilities such as traffic and education are improved, otherwise it may lead to negative after-effects.

(China Daily September 16, 2004)

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