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Law to Protect Free Movement, Settlement

A law on household register management is being drafted in China to create conditions for the people's free movement and settlement 25 years after the country launched the reform, opening and modernization drive.


The Ministry of Public Security is working on the draft, according to the General Office of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature.


The new law, which has been pushed by the public, the media and NPC deputies, is expected to replace the existing provisions on residence registration adopted by the NPC Standing Committee in 1958.


The outdated mode for household register management can no longer meet the demand of a swiftly-changing society, where rural residents move into cities in large numbers, small towns spring up across the country; and a uniform system of household register management seems imminent.


For the past decades, urbanites and villagers in China have been treated very differently in almost all aspects of life, ranging from medical care and education to job opportunities. It has been very difficult for rural residents to settle in cities and their children to enjoy schooling the way as urban children.


Transient rural laborers working and living in cities often fall victims to malfeasant officials and criminal gangs. Transients, especially those from the countryside, have become one of the most vulnerable groups in the country. Children from transient families account for a major part of the school dropouts in cities.


In recent years, people from different circles have been pushing hard to abolish the old residence registration system and to replace it with a law that could secure people's rights for free movement and settlement.


During the First Session of the 10th NPC, 34 deputies tabled a joint proposal on the making of the law. Meanwhile, a series of media reports on the maltreatment of transients in some cities have aroused the attention of the central leadership, giving a strong boost to the issue.


In fact, the State Council, or the cabinet, has issued a series of documents on improving the residence registration management system. In some provinces, local governments have given rural and urban residents the equal status and rights of citizenship. All this has created favorable conditions for the drafting of a national law on that issue.


The NPC Committee for Internal and Judicial Affairs, which sees it a necessity to have a law on household register management, has suggested the draft law be submitted to the NPC Standing Committee for deliberation at a proper time.


(Xinhua News Agency December 8, 2003)


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