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English>>China Society

More hukou reform on horizon

By Ling Yuhuan (Global Times)

10:03, November 14, 2012

Experts called for further loosening of the current household registration system to allow more migrant workers to become registered residents of urban areas and enjoy the benefits and privileges offered by the city in which they work and live.

Yang Zhiming, vice minister of the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, said that the country will take proactive measures to keep migrant workers in urban areas.

Yang suggested migrant workers can apply to register in a county after having a stable job for over half a year, and in a small or medium-sized city after working there for over three years and meeting other criteria.

"They would need to meet additional requirements in big cities," Yang said without providing further details.

Wang Zhenyu, deputy director of a policy research center at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times that migrant workers have had to deal with an increasing number of discriminatory policies in recent years, including restrictions on buying a home in some cities.

In 2011 Beijing required residents who did not hold a city hukou, or household registration permit, to pay taxes for five years before being entitled to buy their first property.

Although authorities of small cities have lifted many restrictions, most rural residents prefer moving to big cities, Li Enze, a lawyer specializing in the protection of employee's rights with the Beijing Impact Law Firm, told the Global Times.

The time-limit requirements will continue to restrict many migrant workers from gaining a big-city hukou as they don't often settle in one city for long periods, said Li.

In a circular issued by the Hebei Provincial Government in July, people who have a stable job for a year and are enrolled in the social insurance program for a certain period can apply for a hukou.

Wang noted that the hukou system not only hinders economic development, it is also likely to lead to social instability.

"The system restricts the free flow of human resources, and it's also likely to create hatred as it discriminates against non-locals," Wang said, adding that any improvement to the system is a good sign.

"To give more migrant workers a hukou in urban areas means they can enjoy the same benefits as urban residents, which poses a big fiscal challenge for cities," he said.

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