Cai Fang, a senior researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences recently criticized the current Hukou system as a main cause behind social inequality. He suggested the Chinese government scrap all privileges inherent in an urban Hukou as part its efforts to reform the Hukou system.
China’s “Hukou” policy, also known as the household registration system, was originally designed to control the movement of people between urban and rural areas. Based on the system, rural newcomers to China’s cities are often denied equal access to public services like education and medical care as they don’t have a local Hukou.
Hukous of large cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai have become increasingly attractive these days because they bring the most convenience and social welfare to those who hold it.
A commentary carried by the Shandong-based Qilu evening news partly agrees with Cai’s point. But it argues that reform should be carried out in a prudent manner.
The article says that some privileges such as public school access should be phased out, because Hukou should in no way deprive children of equal rights to better education.
However, it also noted that some benefits like subsidies for low-income residents should only be given away to people with a local “Hukou” due to a limited funding from the local government.
The article concludes by saying that the reform of the “Hukou” system should ultimately help all residents enjoy more social security and welfare, no matter they hold a local “Hukou” or not.