Hukou reform a big step for equality

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-7-31 0:48:01

The State Council of China issued a landmark document on Wednesday, aimed at bridging the gap between urban and rural residents in the household registration system, also known as the hukou system. According to the new policy, China will replace the hukou system with a more flexible "residence permit system."

In addition, metropolises like Beijing and Shanghai will adopt a points-based immigration system, which gives hope to those who live in these cities without hukou.

The hukou system is one of the cornerstones of China's social governance. This upcoming reform on the system will change the basic look of the Chinese social framework. The application of the new residence permit system will fill in many loopholes left by the outdated hukou system.

This hukou system reform will also signal the end of the long-standing dual urban-rural structure, and the population flow will be further stirred up. This will also pose challenges to the ability of city authorities to provide equal welfare services to local residents and new immigrants. It will take some time to address these new problems, but one cannot deny that replacing the hukou system with residence permits represents major progress.

The points-based immigration system has been given special attention from public opinion. Compared with the chance to turn a rural hukou into an urban one in some regional areas, it is much more difficult to get the coveted permit in mega cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

The hukou system in metropolises has some welfare privileges attached. This kind of inequality cannot be resolved by simply bridging the gap between rural and urban residents in terms of hukou. It can only be done with different regions developing in a balanced manner.

It can be anticipated that the limitations on residence settlements will continue to exist in large cities, and competition for quotas will still be tough. But the points-based system is so far the most applicable approach that can guarantee equality. It should be promoted instead of acting as a supplementary policy.

The points-based system is not just a means, but a concept and a system. In mega cities like Beijing, the hukou quotas shouldn't be monopolized by some particular groups or individuals. This system should be applied to a wider coverage in Beijing, which can ensure that winning points is the only way to get a hukou in the city.

Equality has been given more emphasis in recent years, and Chinese society is committed to realizing equality by every means. But many ordinary people do not feel they are living in a increasingly equal environment, as the public is getting fed up with some inequalities. We would like to sound the alarm for the Chinese government that they shouldn't feel self-satisfied because they have pushed hukou reform forward, but they must put more effort into addressing the existing major problems.

Posted in: Editorial

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