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Beijing to Reform Temporary Residency System
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Beijing is preparing to reform its statute on temporary residency which could lead to providing 3.57 million migrant workers 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.

"They deserve more services and better protection of their rights", Ji said.

Ji said the government is in the process of researching the reform but did not give details on its progress.

Insiders predict the new statute will help residents from other regions of the country win access to more services that are only available to those who have a "Hukou", or permanent residence certificate.

Almost 15 million people live in Beijing.

The changes will likely make it easier for out-of-town residents to obtain driver licenses and apply for bank loans for cars or apartments and receive social assistance.

Migrant workers in Beijing often face discrimination in job hunting and have difficulty 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 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, education, employment, environment and social security.

Authorities are realizing that the solution lies in shifting from trying to control migrant workers to providing better services to the outsiders.

(Xinhua News Agency October 12, 2006)

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