Farmers in Chongqing say 'no thanks' to hukou

08:10, September 29, 2010      

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A recently enacted policy that allows farmers and other rural residents to become urban dwellers in Chongqing is not as popular as expected as many rural people are finding that there are more benefits associated with being a rural resident.

The Chongqing government announced a major policy change in July that would turn 10 million farmers into urban residents by 2020. People with rural registration, or hukou, do not presently enjoy healthcare, education and social insurance benefits that urban residents receive in many cities.

Just 44,700 rural residents in Chongqing had changed their hukou to urban residents as of August 31, the Chongqing Daily reported earlier.

Beijing News reported Tuesday that some villagers contend that the social welfare benefits in rural areas are actually better than those in urban areas, making many rural residents reluctant to change their household registration status.

Zhao Yuankun, a member of the standing committee of the Communist Party of China's Kaixian county committee, was quoted as saying that many rural residents have been eager to change their hukou for decades.

However, over the years, the government has increased agricultural subsidies and cancelled the agricultural tax to make life better for the rural residents.

The report said rural residents in Chongqing are entitled to 21 social welfare benefits such as cash rewards for complying with the family planning policy and subsidies for electrical applianc-es.

However, urban residents are only entitled to about 10 social welfare benefits, the report said.

Rural households are able to use their farmland to earn a living, but they cannot enjoy public medical insurance as urban residents do even though they have been living in the city for a long time.

Xiong Kaisheng, a rural resident in Wenquan township, Kaixian county, told the Global Times Tuesday that he is not interested in applying for an urban hukou.

"I am familiar with the rural way of life and I could raise my family by working on my farm," Xiong said. "If I become an urban resident, I would be stripped of the right to use my farmland within three years."

Xiong said education and medical treatment cost more in the city and that also made him scared of becoming "an urban man."

Chen Yue, deputy head of the Village Institute at the Chongqing Academy of Social Sciences, told the Beijing News that compared with rural people, urban residents face more pressure in terms of finding jobs, buying apartments, educational fees, and medical expenses, all sources of frustration for most rural people.

A worker in the public affairs department in Chongqing refused to comment when contacted by the Global Times Tuesday.

Ji Beibei contributed to this story

By An Baijie, Global Times


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