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New residency rules spark disputes in Shanghai
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16:31, 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 Wednesday, 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 rules say that 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, was quoted by Thursday's China Daily as saying that 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 U.S. dollars) 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.


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