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China Economics

Living in China: Privileges attached to the “Hukou” should be eliminated

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 […]

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.

By Itamar Medeiros

Originally from Brazil, Itamar Medeiros currently lives in Germany, where he works as Lead Product Design Strategist at SAP and promotes User Experience Design as visiting lecturer at Köln International School of Design. Working in the Information Technology industry since 1998, Itamar Medeiros has helped truly global companies in several countries (Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, The Netherlands, Poland, United Arab Emirates, United States) create great user experience through advocating Design and Innovation principles. During his 7 years in China, he championed the User Experience Design discipline as User Experience Manager at Autodesk and Local Coordinator of the Interaction Design Association (IxDA) in Shanghai

One reply on “Living in China: Privileges attached to the “Hukou” should be eliminated”

In a country with 1.5 billion people, removing the Hukou system is only going to add to the existing increasing chaos. There will never be sufficient resources to give all of Chinese nationals a decent lifestyle. There just simply is’nt enough to go around. There will have to be the have’s and many more have not’s in China. The Hukou is only one of a multitude of controls in place to slow the flow, keep in check the otherwise uncontrollable gradient of people pushing into the cities in the hope of a better life. Its like that everwhere in the world, but in other locations, the pressure is less felt due to lower populations or simply better infrastructure outside the urban centres. Other countries thus dont need to have such “Hukou” processes in place.

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