China abolishes hukou system in 11 provinces

Who says I never post good news about China? This is great news indeed. Here’s the whole thing, which I consider important.

China plans to abolish the legal division between urban and rural residents in 11 provinces to protect the rights of migrants needed for labor in booming cities, though a similar experiment failed four years ago, the official media said Wednesday.

The new policy would drop the decades-old “hukou,” or residence permit, system that has denied millions of rural migrants in Chinese cities the same rights to health care, education and social security as granted to native city dwellers.

The China Daily newspaper said Wednesday that the police had warned that rapid changes to the residency permit system could cause an influx of rural migrants to cities, sparking chaos and crime, an argument questioned by the state-run China Youth Daily.

“In today’s China, many urban ills are not results of opening residency restrictions, they come from migrants being treated unequally once they enter cities,” the China Youth Daily said.

“With this system, city authorities can get all the cheap labor they need and do not have to pay any social benefits,” it said, noting that China was one of three countries, along with North Korea and Benin, that still had strict residency rules.

The reforms would theoretically end the pattern of unfair treatment, including regular denial of payment to migrant workers, who have fueled much of the country’s rapid economic development by providing the work force for its factories and its construction boom.

The moves could also help stem growing unrest over China’s widening wealth gap, the great fear of Communist Party rulers who want to maintain stability in light of recent demonstrations.

Among the provinces considering canceling residency restrictions is booming Guangdong in the south, where migrants make up more than one-quarter of its population of 110 million.

Yet Guangdong needs more workers. The authorities have said they expected to be short one million migrant laborers this year.

In 2001, Zhengzhou, a city in Henan Province in central China, allowed anyone with relatives already living in the city to get a free residence permit.

“Increased pressure on transport, education, health care and a rise in crime forced the city to cancel the measure three years later,” the China Daily quoted Bian Haihong of the Beijing Public Security Department as saying.

China had to solve some of its most serious social problems before it could safely lift residency restrictions, the Business Weekly said in a commentary.

“If urban-rural economic disparities are not closed, if economic differences between regions continue to grow, if there is no way to implement a unified system of social insurance, then the government basically has no choice but enforce some degree of residence management,” it said.

The hukou system always struck me as a form of Apartheid, putting people into a caste system determined by their birthplace. I despise it with a passion because it is so inherently unfair and biased and brutal. The good news is that the CCP is apparently serious about ending it (am I being too optimistic?). But don’t heap praise on them: they’re the ones who came up with this detestable system in the first place, inflicting misery on those unlucky enough not to be born in choice urban areas. So once again, I will give them credit, but not for doing something wonderful, only for reversing their previous loathesome policy.

The Discussion: 59 Comments

it started as state-control/security, ended up as apartheid and discrimination.

November 3, 2005 @ 1:12 am | Comment

either way, it sucked.

November 3, 2005 @ 1:16 am | Comment

Which 11 provinces? Why not all of them?
They mention Guangdong, which I totally agree with. I’d guess that in reality the number of migrant workers is even greater than a quarter of the population there. But what about Beijing? Do you remember how all the migrant workers just upped and left during SARS? As they weren’t getting any benefits from staying, they didn’t see why they should stay. (Quite logical really.) I think that for greater stability the hukou needs to be abolished pretty much everywhere.

November 3, 2005 @ 1:39 am | Comment

The article doesn’t say. Beijing is the place that matters most to me, so I eagerly await an answer.

November 3, 2005 @ 1:43 am | Comment

Yay. China’s hukou system does NOT make sense to me. Draconian measures at their best.

November 3, 2005 @ 2:03 am | Comment

I remember how wierd I thought it was when one of my staff had to take a half day off to renew her Hukou (she’s from Chengdu). It’s just the kind of thing American’s don’t expect. If I want to live in Cleveland, I’ll move to Cleveland (I don’t want to live in Cleveland, but work with me here). I blogged about it, and earned one of the most visceral hate comments I ever got, from the now-banned troll Really.

November 3, 2005 @ 2:16 am | Comment

It’s only fair to point out that back during the Depression the state of California tried similar measures designed to keep the “Oakies” out, and was bitch-slapped by the U.S. Supreme Court. The recognition of a “right to travel” in the U.S. Constitution (first alluded to in 1849) was a departure from earlier English Common Law. Sometimes it takes a while, but it’s nice to know that the System (usually) eventually works.

November 3, 2005 @ 4:27 am | Comment

In March 2004 a young graphics designer named Sun Zhigang was arrested for not having a city residents card.

He was later beaten to death in police custody.

November 3, 2005 @ 4:48 am | Comment

Who says I never post good news about China?


not bad, you are getting more sense of humor. i love it.

November 3, 2005 @ 5:37 am | Comment

As A Chinese, I can responsibly tell you that when the Hu Kou system was established, it was totally necessary to regulate the logistics of such a large country, due to many many complex reasons. The government was absolutely sensible in establishing it back then.

But today, as China developed, the Hu Kou system is more and more out-dated. So I think the government is very wise in taking steps to phase out that system, and this news is proof of that. So I support this news.

November 3, 2005 @ 8:50 am | Comment

While there might be some economic reasoning behind this, this system came down to two things.

1) Beijing wanted to prevent a flood of farmers from leaving the land and heading to the cities, thus leading to the collapse of China’s agricultural system.

2) Beijing wanted to prevent cities from becoming the center of resistance to their rule.

It is exactly what Japan did when it invaded China, expell millions of urban residents and pushed them into remote rural enclaves where they are easier to control, and where forming resistance is harder because of a lack of resources, poor communications, and crushing manual work saps peoples’ strength.

Mao learned a lot during those days.

November 3, 2005 @ 9:06 am | Comment

Urbanization is key to China’s development. I think this is a good move. Hopefully will Chinese farmers/peasants gradually evolve into urban citizen.

November 3, 2005 @ 10:37 am | Comment

I don’t know how real this change is. If it is real and there are not many conditions attached, it will be a big step forward for China and I’ll be very impressed.

Richard said it right, it is the CCP that came up with this stupid system in the first place. Obviously, the current leadersip seems to care the ordinary people more on their needs.

November 3, 2005 @ 11:20 am | Comment

I’m confused. The headlines seem to indicate that China has *already* gotten rid of the hukou. Yet in every article, it merely says that it *plans* to abolish it. So when is it planning to do it? If I haven’t missed anything, it seems like they announced the intent but did not give any timeframe.

November 3, 2005 @ 2:47 pm | Comment

BBC report

It appears that it is only being studied in those provinces, not even necessarily abolished there.

But I do think it has to change, really. It is such a ridiculous idea, even for the PRC.

November 3, 2005 @ 3:28 pm | Comment

As A Chinese, I can responsibly tell you that when the Hu Kou system was established, it was totally necessary to regulate the logistics of such a large country, due to many many complex reasons. The government was absolutely sensible in establishing it back then.

The old “necessary to maintain stability” canard. With that, you can justify virtually anything. You’re a good robot.

November 3, 2005 @ 4:11 pm | Comment

Richard, I have been thinking. China has 1.3 billion people. I wonder what would happen if just 10% of those would swamp Shanghai…

The same idea could be applied for Europe or the US. What if Europe or the US let poor people from developing countries settle in the West without restrictions?

November 3, 2005 @ 8:20 pm | Comment

Yeah, so you set up a caste system where some people, based on the piece of dirt they were born on, get all the privileges, while those not so lucky get shit. Wonderful. Brilliant. God bless Chairman Mao.

November 3, 2005 @ 8:28 pm | Comment

richard, yes, the world is not fair. If you are born in Africa, you just have bad luck. The best way to fix this imbalance is to develop developing regions.

November 3, 2005 @ 8:36 pm | Comment

> If you are born in Africa, you just have bad luck.


But we are talking about the people of the same country. The hukou system is clearly worng. It may have some historical reasons behind it (communism is the main reason I can think of); but it is out-dated long time ago and must be abolished as soon as possible.

November 3, 2005 @ 8:43 pm | Comment

I support getting rid of the Hukou system, because I believe the rights of peasants who move to the city should be protected. A developed country is mostly an urbanized country. However, I think that most Chinese would move to the East or South, most likely either Shanghai or the Pearl River Delta area. When more people move in, there will be tensions among the natives. China is big, there are many different cultures and habits. This will clash. So the question of stability is a legitimate one. Somehow, I believe there should be policy on that.

November 3, 2005 @ 8:53 pm | Comment

I don’t think ZHJ is totally wrong here. It should be remembered that Shanghai has an equivalent development to that of Portugal, whereas Guizhou has developed to that of Nambia (or is it Zambia? I forget). A flood of immigrants is a real possibility and could cause more problems than it solves. We know from our history books what happened in the UK when there was a mass flood of migrants to the cities during industrialisation. Overcrowding, mass poverty etc etc. I suppose you might argue that this is going on already, so why not legitimise it? Hmmm…the argument in europe (i feel a better comparison than that of america, due to the unbalanced development in china and europe) is that we need restrictions of worker movement from the east to the west as these workers would undercut local wage levels and cause problems. right of movement aside, i’d like to know what the benefits of abolishing the hukou are.

November 3, 2005 @ 9:04 pm | Comment

As Xing so intelligently noted, this is government-mandate unfairness. It was designed by your government and is unfair and bad in every way. There are other ways to manage populations without discrimination. As I said, you can rationalize anything and everything the CCP does in the name of “harmony” and “stability,” but you are only fooling yourself. The hukou system is a form of cattle branding, like making the Jews wear yellow stars. To hear you defend it is a disgrace.

November 3, 2005 @ 9:06 pm | Comment

Immigrant control is one thing. Saying people born here have all the benefits, while those born here have none is vile.

I am passionate about this for personal reasons. I know people who have been directly hurt by this system.

November 3, 2005 @ 9:08 pm | Comment

>i’d like to know what the benefits of abolishing the hukou are.

Human dignity, and no need to mention the others.

Of course, there has always been the stability factor there. But it must not be used as an excute. If the government had started taking steps to reform the hukou system, say 15 or 20 years ago, the siuation would be much different now.

November 3, 2005 @ 9:22 pm | Comment

Common richard, I wonder, are you Jewish? Why do you always drag Hitler and the Holocaust in discussions? You basically kill off every topic this way.

A little bit offtopic, but in the Netherlands, we have had a rightist populist who gained lots of support of the people. The established parties, including the leftist ones, tried in all possible ways to discredit him by comparing him with Hitler and to abuse the Holocaust for their own political benefits. The more they did that, the more the people rallied behind the populist. Why? Because the people are not tolerate and do not accept such cheap rhetoric. It has been used too often and the effect has worn out.

On topic: the Hukou system is outdated. I believe this as well. It has restricted social mobility. But then again, it has protected people as well. Richard, there needs to be city planning and good organization of infrastructure. Even in the Netherlands, the government has made sure that some small villages cannot get any bigger, to keep its authentic look. This means nobody can settle there, and the only exceptions are the children of those who already live there. So I think the Hukou system should be replaced by a more modern system. Essentially allowing the free flow of people, but also protecting special areas. I mean, Shanghai cannot have 100 million citizen.

November 3, 2005 @ 9:24 pm | Comment

I only bring up the Holocaust whre I see parallels, such as branding people based on unnatural criteria (race, place of birth). Yes, I am Jewish. I did lose relatives int he holocaust, so it is a natural analogy for me when I hear of discrimination, of people being selected to be treated differently than others.

Tell me what conversations I have “killed off” by doing this. Which one in particular do you have in mind? I eagerly await your link.

There is a reason people associate evil with Hitler. He was the archetype of all evil. Just as people (Westerners anyway) will naturally say, “What would Jesus do in this situation.” That’s because Jesus is the archetypal figure of good. This is reasonable, even if it is overused.

November 3, 2005 @ 9:31 pm | Comment

Certainly, discrimination is a terrible thing, but if you turn up illegally in a place what do you expect? illegal migrants hav no rights anywhere – the us, the uk wherever. If there is an influx into the UK from Eastern Europe then this would create pressure on the system in terms of the health care, education etc. The same goes for the east coast cities in China. Surely the answer lies in developing and urbanising the western regions of china.

xing said “If you are born in Africa, you just have bad luck.


But we are talking about the people of the same country”

can i take that to mean that it is ok to discriminate against foreigners, but not against fellow chinese?

certainly the system is bad, it creates discrimination and suffering. but i fail to see how lifting the hukou system will alleviate this. i can’t see how the argument ‘having no hukou means you have no rights, therefore abolishing the hukou means that everyone will be magically treated better and have more rights’ works. discrimination is a state of mind.

abolishing the hukou would create an influx into the eastern cities, creating a greater strain on already badly funded public systems. as i have already said the answer surely lies in development of the west. i fail to see how abolishing the hukou system will help matters.

November 3, 2005 @ 9:31 pm | Comment

I’m thrilled to see that you are in the decided minority on this one, Si. You are free to have your opinion. Of course, if you were one of the victims of this loathesome system I suspect the tune you’re singing would be radically different. But from our positions of comfort and advantage it’s easy to justify something that is plainly wrong in every way.

November 3, 2005 @ 9:34 pm | Comment

Richard, I understand and respect your passion for this subject, but I can’t agree with you entirely.

Certainly the hukou system needs reform – i’m not arguing it doesn’t -but migration has to be managed somehow. like zhj says you can’t just have huge numbers of people turning up in beijing or shanghai. you can’t go from one extreme to the other.

i can’t agree with your comparison to the holocaust. discrimination is one thing, but these people are not wearing the star of david or being herded to gas chambers. granted their lives in the countryside are awful, but then so are their lives in the cities. i really feel strongly about that too. sometimes you have to accept the better of two evils.

secondly, not all westerners would cite the whole ‘what would jesus do?’ thing – thats more a christian or perhaps american thing. however i agree that zhj’s comment ‘Common richard, I wonder, are you Jewish? Why do you always drag Hitler and the Holocaust in discussions? You basically kill off every topic this way. ‘ is below the belt. i too can’t think of a time when you have dragged hitler into discussions. i think your analogy is too extreme, but i understand your thinking

November 3, 2005 @ 9:40 pm | Comment

> I know people who have been directly hurt by this system.

Actually, there are lots of them, about 700 millions in China! Every time, I go back to China and look at those immigrants on the street in Guangzhou, I feel sorry for them and their family.

Si, you compare the immigrants in China to illegal immigrants in the US, abosulte nonsense.

November 3, 2005 @ 9:45 pm | Comment

I am happy to be in the minority, richard. the problem is not the hukou system – it is the party’s unbalanced approach to development overall causing the problem. in europe we also have migration controls whilst living in a free society. i am sure that if i were a polish peasant i wouldn’t like the european migration rules either. however i still stick to my guns on the fact that some form of control is necessary. In Taiwan there are restrictions on mainland workers are there not? is this not a form of migration control?

November 3, 2005 @ 9:48 pm | Comment

Richard, ok, I understand now. As you have said, Hitler is seen as absolute evil. If you say that something is equivalent to that kind of evil, what is point is to discuss about it then? I urge you to be careful about making these analogies. I haven’t visited your site daily, but the last topic I remember was the one about Mao Zedong.

On topic: I believe the cities in the West could get bigger and become the new manufactoring base, whereas the east should concentrate more on services and technology. Effectively the West could be emulating the development of the East. It would be also better to tax richer areas and use that money to invest in poorer regions.

November 3, 2005 @ 9:51 pm | Comment

No Xing, I compare illegal immigrants in china to those across europe. i know nothing about illegal workers in the us – i am english. i fail to see why this is nonsense. please enlighten me why this is so. these people are hurt by poverty. my argument is this poverty is not caused by the hukou system, nor will it be alleviated by its lfiting. I argue that some form of migration control is necessary.

I am afraid that I have things to do this afternoon and weekend, so won’t be able to reply to any notices til this evening or maybe monday. i am, believe or not (and i bet richard will snort contempously or at least mutter ‘yeah, right’ when he reads this) a supporter of human rights. i hope i am totally wrong in what i am saying and look forward to a detailed rebuttal and explanation why i am totally stupid – at which point i would be very happy to concede.

November 3, 2005 @ 9:56 pm | Comment


That would require the cities in the prosperous south and east to give up their manufacturing base. I’m not saying this could not happen, or that it would not be of benefit to shift the manufacturing west while trying to construct a service-based economy in the east. But it would take convincing all of the locals in the south and east that the formula for success that they have enjoyed in the past two decades needs to be altered radically.

Plus, I really dont think even the more prosperous areas are quite ready to take on the challenges of transformation to service-base.

Nor do I think the infrastructure of the west is built up nearly enough to handle such a transformation in the near future.

These are just my own opinions. I could be wrong.

November 3, 2005 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

No snorting, Si. Whoever said poverty would be alleviated by lifitng the hukou system? No one. It’s not about that. it’s about inequality. Repeat, inequality.

November 3, 2005 @ 10:04 pm | Comment

ZHJ, please don;t get carried away. I didn’t invoke Hitler’s name at all, you did. I said anytime you brand people based on where they were born or the color of their skins or the god they worship, it is akin to putting the yellow stars on Jews during the Holocaust. i stand by that 100 percent. Of all topics on this blog, this one – inequality and prejudice – is my No. 1 issue. I have no tolerance for such intolerance.

November 3, 2005 @ 10:06 pm | Comment

“Si, you compare the immigrants in China to illegal immigrants in the US, abosulte nonsense.”

I don’t think that is really nonsense. The motives are the same. People move to richer areas, to make money so they can support their families at home. They don’t have a legal status and enjoy few or no rights. They have different cultures and do live in their own communities. I support legalizing all illegal immigrants in Western countries, so do I support giving all Chinese city dwellers a legal status to become Beijinese, Shanghainese, etc. But you cannot accept the entire world, so there should be a threshold and a balance of migration in China. The balance can be best achieved by making poorer regions better. Developing poor regions is the best way.

If everyone in Guangzhou would move to Beijing, in what way is Beijing still Beijing? This is another point to keep in mind. Also with poor non-natives moving in, tensions will rise because of rising crime, clashing cultures, etc. Yes, China has lots of cultures and even so called Han culture consists of lots of cultures. An example is the rich port city of Wenzhou. As more and more waishenren move in, the Wenzhounese language and culture is disappearing slowly. The Wenzhounese language is distinct from Mandarin. The waishenren do not eat the typical Wenzhou dish of raw krab. I get carried away a little bit, but I think my point is clear.

November 3, 2005 @ 10:08 pm | Comment

And Si, I totally agree with your words that “some sort of control is necessary.” But the hukou system is absolutely the wrong type of control because it exacerbates China’s most seriouis problem, the haves vs. the haves not.

November 3, 2005 @ 10:09 pm | Comment

“I said anytime you brand people based on where they were born or the color of their skins or the god they worship, it is akin to putting the yellow stars on Jews during the Holocaust.”

Nobody is branding people on race or religion. I think that is not the point of the Hukou system. Sorry Richard, but I feel you miss the point.

November 3, 2005 @ 10:12 pm | Comment

Also richard, last time I visited your site you clearly stated that Mao Zedong was Hitler, or have you retracted that statement? I am opposed to comparing people with Hitler, whether they be George Bush or Mao Zedong.

November 3, 2005 @ 10:18 pm | Comment

No, you’re missing the point. I said “anytime you brand people based on where they were born or the color of their skins….” Get that?

November 3, 2005 @ 10:18 pm | Comment

Who is branding people on where they are born? It seems a witch hunt for alleged intolerance.

November 3, 2005 @ 10:22 pm | Comment

ZHJ, Si,

If you believe that the caste-equivalent hukou system is justified in China, then I have to agree with what you said.

November 3, 2005 @ 10:28 pm | Comment

>i fail to see how abolishing the hukou system will help matters.

This, I think we should ask the victims of the hukou system. It’ll not only help the 700 million people, it’ll also help the development of China. For the urban residents, the negative impact will be marginal for the short term.

November 3, 2005 @ 10:38 pm | Comment

I said mao Zedong was Hitler? Absurd. Mao had less hair. Hitler had a mustache. I asked for the link. I may have said Mao was comparable to Stalin and Hitler, and that’s a fact. I never said he was Hitler.

November 4, 2005 @ 1:29 am | Comment


Totally agree that the hukou system is the cradle of inequality and a blocking factor to upward social mobility for large groups of people in China. In that respect, the abolition would have to be considered a good thing. Only, I am not sure whether it is going to solve problems, as I believe the Chinese economic miracle has currently everything to do with the hardware (concrete, buildings, highways, cars, GDP …) and very little with the software (social institutions, welfare organisations …) so I am also quite pessimistic on what we might see happening by lifting the hukou system: in my opinion, the system in the cities is not in place to receive a massive influx of migrant workers. The entire rationale for lifting the hukou policy sounds very wrong to my ears. It is based on the “haves” who need more “have nots” to do the dirty work for them and the target is not to bring all of them on the same level in society.

One thing that kept China different from other third world countries was the non-existence (well, almost) of large slums at the periphery of the big cities. I am afraid that will be no longer the case. Question is: what is to be preferred for those armies of “have nots”: a poor existence in the countryside or a poor existence in a slum ?

November 4, 2005 @ 5:29 am | Comment

I really don’t know, Lao Lu. But they should have the freedom to choose where they want to be poor in their own country. But the hukou system isn’t only unfair to the poor. I know a college-educated fellow from the countryside who lives in Beijing but wasn’t allowed to apply for a government job solely because of his hukou status. So a less competent person coulod get that job simply by birthright. I despise that sort of institutionaized prejudice.

November 4, 2005 @ 5:37 am | Comment

I am aware of those situations, Richardand it’s a sad thing. But I am also thinking of for instance medical care for the urban residents. Time and again, they need all the guanxi they can get to get access to the best care for a certain problem, and for the most trivial problems doctors are trying to prescribe ridiculously expensive medicine instead of just-as-good mainstream medicine. If this is already such a hassle for the urbanites, how will the system treat the newcomers ? In my opinion, they will try to rip them off even more for their ignorance, and honestly speaking, I wonder if anybody at the top cares for it, as long as those migrants keep pouring concrete and erect highrise buildings.

November 4, 2005 @ 6:21 am | Comment

No arguments there. But in the hinterlands, now that Mao’s one half-decent program is gone (barefoot doctors), they can’t get any healthcare anyway. So wqhat do they have to lose? Who says only urbanites are entitled to see doctors?

November 4, 2005 @ 6:25 am | Comment

richard, it was one of the first comments on the topic about that book by Jung Chang. The link? This is your site and I think you know where you have posted it. I am absolutely opposed to saying that Mao was like Hitler. Mao never had any race theories or wanted to exterminate other peoples. The simple comparison is absurd. The problem with Mao was that he believed in an utopia and tried to achieve that utopia in China. Obviously that failed. I am more open to the comparison with Stalin. But both men have done different things, different cultures and different characters.

On topic: Obviously poor people want to get to richer areas and wants to have that system abolished. Richer areas then again would want to keep that system. I think we should think of a way to solve this issue and think of a good policy, a better policy. We should go a step further.

November 4, 2005 @ 9:26 am | Comment

My take on the (eventual?) abolishing of the hukou system is: it might not make things that much better, but it certainly can’t screw up things any worse. More sophisticated migration control reforms can come later, but taking this first step is imperative, and humane.

Oh, I’m not getting into the Mao-Hitler can of worms again. I still think it’s not a fair comparison, but heck, I guess from another standpoint one megalomaniac mass-murderer can’t be all that different from another megalomaniac mass-murderer, after all. Better to compare Mao to Hitler than a saint, at least.

November 4, 2005 @ 12:07 pm | Comment

>I know a college-educated fellow from the countryside who lives in Beijing but wasn’t allowed to apply for a government job solely because of his hukou status.


Such an example is very typical in China. And simply because of the hukou system, many relationships break, two college students are in love; one can stay and the other one has to go back to his/her hometown; and I personally knew many couples that had to live in two places, hundreds of miles apart, seeing each other only a few times a year. Not to mention the peasants who have no hope but stick to the dirt for generations. The list can go on and on. It is very inhuman.

November 4, 2005 @ 2:45 pm | Comment

Thank you, Xing. I am am azed that anyone would justify such a bad system.

November 4, 2005 @ 3:59 pm | Comment

Funny how there seems to be no problem with fostering massive Han immigration into Xinjiang… I guess that immigration “control” just means what it says: you control it, so you can do whatever you want with it that will be the most convenient..

November 4, 2005 @ 4:34 pm | Comment

you also need to transfer hukou to xinjiang.
it is relatively easier.

however, most han chinese prefer to keep the hukou in their hometowns.

during the 1970s, some moved to qinghai or xinjiang, and had a very hard time trying to move back.

November 4, 2005 @ 6:33 pm | Comment

Funny how there seems to be no problem with fostering massive Han immigration into Xinjiang…

That’s a very telling point.

However, I wonder what percentage of Han immigrants to X1njiang and T1bet are poor Han peasants versus engineers, managers, and other white collars? Does anyone have an idea?

November 6, 2005 @ 8:28 am | Comment

Going back a bit, sorry. Richard no-one says the rural people have no right to healthcare – surely the answer i developing the west. how can it develop if too many people move east?

i am not sure about what sort of people moved west in terms of han migration but i believe it is mainly white-collars – they are needed for control and infrastructure – as far as they are concerned the locals can do the dirty work. this is the main complaint of the tibetans and uighurs – their bosses are always han.

November 8, 2005 @ 9:51 pm | Comment

The Hukou policy was established when PRC was
suffereing from national wide food shortage for
a rather long period of time. During this period,
food was strictly rationed so everyone would at
least have something to eat. To make sure that
everyone got exactly what was allocated to them,
the Hukou system was established to make sure
people couldn’t just travel to a different place
to use up other people’s food quota. Furthermore,
by locking people into fixed regions, it was much
easier for the government to make detailed plans
for allocating food and other essential goods and

The Hukou policy was probably the best solution
to the food shortage problem at the time that the
CCP could come up with. It is now outdated, and
should be removed. However, the removal must
be a gradual and controlled process. Large and
sudden changes are rarely good for the society.

This policy is unfair, since people are treated
differently based on their places of birth. However,
I wonder what the alternative would have been.
Is it better to have 1.3 billion people who have
equal but little access to health, education and
poor infrastructure, or having 300 million people
who are much more educated, and having access
to better infrastructure? Which alternative do you
think is going to make the country developer

If the Hukou system was abolished tommorrow,
and hundreds of millions of the rural population
rushed into the cities, how would the urban
government be able to provide the health care,
education, and even living area for these new
residents who would have very little money and
skill for work? If you guys have a rock-soilid solution
for this, I’m sure the CCP would be happy to hear
about it, after all, they’ve been trying to urbanize
China for a few years.

Another thing about the Hukou system is that it
can be changed. For example, before 1997, the
majority of new university students were from the
rural area, and every single one of them would
have had his/her Hukou moved from the villages to
the university that they were accepted into. After
their graduation, their Hukous would be rellocated
again to where their jobs were.

November 13, 2005 @ 6:02 am | Comment

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