China plans to resettle 100 million rural residents into towns, cities by 2020

Global Business

As part of China’s urbanization plan, the government is pushing for 60 percent of the country’s population to be living in cities by 2020. To do that Beijing is reforming its household registration system, better known as hukou.

Hukou reforms to help 100 million Chinese

As part of China's urbanization plan, the government is pushing for 60% of the country's population to be living in cities by 2020. And to do that Beijing is reforming its household registration system, better known as hukou.

China plans to help about 100 million people without urban ID records to settle in towns and cities by 2020, as part of reforms to phase out its dual-household registration system, the State Council, China’s cabinet, said on Wednesday.

It issued a circular aimed at accelerating reform of the nation’s household registration, or “hukou” system.

The document said the government will remove the limits on hukou registration in townships and small cities, relax restrictions in medium-sized cities, and set qualifications for registration in big cities.

The rights and benefits of residents who do not have urban ID records in the city where they live should be safeguarded, the document added.

At a press conference Wednesday, vice public security minister Huang Ming said different approaches will be applied in the hukou system, based on the size and population of a city.

Authorities will set no limits for those who want to settle in small cities and towns. “Anyone who has a legal residence can register for permanent residence, even temporary tenants,” Huang said.

Medium-sized cities with a population between one million and three million will have a low threshold, while megacities with more than five million residents will try to strictly control the influx of new citizens.

People wishing to settle in megacities like Beijing and Shanghai will have to qualify through a “points system” based on their seniority in employment, their accommodation and social security, according to Huang.

Megacities “face a lot population pressure, with an annual floating population of hundreds of thousands,” the official said.

Huang said the reform will be unprecedented, regarding its scale, coverage, measures and the resolution of the central government.

Wednesday’s circular also indicated that the reform will put an end to the dual-household registration system which has divided people into urban or agricultural households since the 1950s.

Currently, citizens without urban household registration (hukou) do not enjoy equal access to public services in cities, as the ID record, which means permanent residential permit, ties subsidized social services including health, housing, education or pensions to one’s legal residence.

The circular said an urban-rural registration system and a residential permit system will be introduced to ensure those services in cities will benefit all residents, said the circular.

Yang Zhiming, vice minister of human resources and social security, said the reform will help integrate the nation’s migrant workers into cities, since they are the major group of the people who do not hold urban ID records in the cities where they work.

Official data showed that China had 166 million migrant workers who worked in cities and towns away from their home by the end of 2013. This figure increased to 174 million by the end of the June.