Hukou Rules to be Eased in Small Cities Around China

By Bryan Grogan, April 9, 2019

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In a push to increase waning urbanization around China, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced on Monday that rules surrounding household registration, referred to as hukou, in second- and third-tier cities in China will be eased in a move set to benefit scores of migrant workers. 

According to the report, the NDRC wants to increase China’s urbanization rate by 1 percent by the end of 2019. As of 2018, 59.6 percent of people in China were living in urban areas.

Restrictions on household registration in cities with a population of 1-3 million people will be scrapped, while rules in cities with a population of 3-5 million people will be relaxed, with restrictions on the settlement of key groups abolished. The notice also encourages large megacities to adjust and improve their settlement policy. 

Reform in social coverage will revolve around providing basic public services for residents under the household registration system, in areas such as education, medical insurance, pension insurance, vocational skills training, childcare services and more. 

READ MORE: Is China's 'Internal Passport' Becoming Obsolete?

China has had an underlying issue with ‘left-behind’ families over the past few decades, with an estimated “69 million children left-behind due to migration,” according to a 2017 report by UNICEF. ‘Left-behind’ children usually reside in rural areas, while their parents migrate to cities around China in search of work. They have been known to live in extreme poverty and sometimes suffer psychological issues as a result. 

In order to accommodate new urban residents, the release also sets out plans to improve infrastructure and urban layout within cities, with calls to cultivate and develop a ‘modern metropolitan area’ and promote cities’ ‘high quality development.’ 

This latest effort to increase urbanization in the country comes just months after the government released plans surrounding their Greater Bay Area project in South China, a part of the country which has been a popular destination for migrant workers. 

It also comes as China continues to expand urban centers, with large-scale development plans for more than 60 cities around China despite a supposed shrinking city phenomenon, according to South China Morning Post

READ MORE: What’s the Greater Bay Area Plan and Why Does It Matter?

[Cover image via @山西人社/Weibo]

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