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Shanghai residency rules 'discriminate'
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08:28, June 18, 2009

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The local government in China's most populous city is cracking the door wider for those wanting to make it their permanent home.

Shanghai unveiled new rules yesterday, elaborating on a policy that, for the first time, offers the option of permanent residency to talents from outside the city of 18 million.

But the rules immediately drew criticism for discriminating against many migrant workers.

The Shanghai municipal government announced in February it would approve permanent residency for qualified talents, easing its strict population control measures for the first time.

People walk on Nanjing Xilu, one of the busiest streets in Shanghai. China's most populous city announced detailed rules yesterday to allow some holders of temporary residency permits to become permanent residents, a move that is designed to attract talents but that was lambasted by some people as being discriminatory against migrant workers. Gao Erqiang

Details of who might qualify and who can apply were announced yesterday.

To qualify for permanent residency, applicants must have held a Shanghai residency certificate and have been in the city's social security system for at least seven years. They must also be taxpayers, have obtained a vocational qualification at medium or high levels, have never violated family planning policies, and have clean credit and no criminal record.

Mao Dali, deputy director of Shanghai's municipal human resources and social security bureau, said more than 270,000 people from other provinces have been issued residency certificates since 2002 and 3,000 have held certificates for seven years.

In an online poll garnering opinions from among more than 1.6 million netizens on web portal eastday.com, more than 88 percent disagreed with the rules, saying Shanghai could not afford a bigger population. Nine percent said they were looking forward to finally becoming permanent residents and 1.28 percent said the rules were still too strict.

A netizen from Guangdong province said the drafters of rules were narrow-minded.

"It discriminates against poor people from other provinces," the netizen wrote. "What about the six million migrant workers in Shanghai, who have contributed to the city's fast development?"

A Shanghai netizen complained that "eight out of 10 Shanghai residents around me are out of a job and others earn 1,000 yuan ($146) a month".

"Why are only people from other provinces considered talents?"

Some worried the changes would heap pressure on public services and traffic.

Li Xiaoping, a researcher with Shanghai Institute of Public Administration and Human Resources, said the rules may need to be refined.

"More explanations are needed to stipulate how employees of foreign and privately-owned companies, who are not qualified for technical job titles that are awarded in government institutions only, are handled," he said.

But Zhang Xiongwei, from Qidong of Jiangsu province, said the change gives him, and other migrant workers, hope.

By the end of this year, Shanghai will have a population of 19 million, 6 million of whom will not have permanent residency.

Source:China Daily

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