CHINA / SOCIETY
China to bring vagrants and beggars into social security system
Published: May 09, 2020 12:35 AM

A vagrant gets a hukou in Hengyang, Central China's Hunan Province (photo: screenshot of Hengyang TV station)


China plans to bring vagrants and beggars into its social security system, strengthening efforts in poverty alleviation.

Vagrants and beggars who meet certain conditions will get a hukou, or household registration, and enjoy social security benefits, the Ministry of Civil Affairs stated on its website on Thursday.

The policy has got applause on Chinese social media, with many netizens praising it as an embodiment of China's humanitarian care of the people at the very bottom of the social ladder. 

Some regional governments had taken steps before the national-level policy was enacted. In Hengyang of Central China's Hunan Province, for instance, 21 vagrants got a hukou and started enjoying local basic medical insurance in January, Hengyang TV station reported.

As an important measure to reach the goal of ridding China of extreme poverty by 2020, the effort of putting vagrants and beggars under social security protection guarantees them the basic right to life, said Yang Lixiong, vice director of the Social Security Research Center at Renmin University of China.

"It's a very good policy, especially for the homeless people with ability to work," Yang told the Global Times Friday, adding that a hukou enables them to find a job locally and gradually live a normal life instead of wandering on the streets all day.

For those without working ability, such as the physically or mentally disabled and children, the policy secures their basic livelihood and therefore contributes to the social stability, Yang said.

"In some developed Western countries, by contrast, the vagrants and beggars on the streets have brought hidden troubles to the local security," he added.

Nonetheless, Yang worries the possible negative effects of the policy and calls for more cautious implementation at the local level, particularly in first-tier metropolis.

Approving hukou to vagrants and beggars is okay in many second-tier and third-tier cities and counties where there are few limitations on hukou, Yang said. 

"But in the most developed cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, where getting a hukou is not easy in the face of strict restrictions, I don't suggest issuing it to all these people," he added.


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