Beijing opens door to 'hukou' applicants

Beijing may introduce a new system to allow nonresidents to get a household registration, or hukou, through gaining enough credit points, according to a draft regulation by the Legal Affairs Office of the Beijing Municipal Government.

The move came as the capital stepped up measures to control the size of the population in central areas.

According to a draft regulation released on Thursday for public feedback, criteria for obtaining a hukou include having a Beijing residential permit, being less than 45 years old, having paid social insurance in the capital for at least seven consecutive years and having no criminal record.

To accumulate enough credit points, the applicants must have stable employment and a stable residence in the capital.

Educational background is among the most important criteria, with applicants holding a bachelor's degree being awarded 15 points and applicants holding a doctor's degree 39 points, according to the draft.

However, the draft did not specify how many points were required to obtain a hukou, stipulating that the yearly quota will be based on changes in the population.

The capital hopes to reduce the population by 15 per cent in its six central districts-Dongcheng, Xicheng, Haidian, Chaoyang, Fengtai and Shijingshan-according to the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) issued by the Communist Party of China Beijing Municipal Committee.

It also plans to contain total population within 23 million.

Applicants can accumulate up to 12 points if they move to suburban districts.

The proposal will primarily benefit high-end groups in Beijing, as most migrant workers will not be able to get a Beijing hukou, according to Yang Juhua, a professor of population studies at Renmin University of China.

"The requirement for a migrant worker to pay social security fees for at least seven years will be a very high requirement," she said.

The proposal is in line with the Beijing government's strategy to control population growth and move out the migrant population working in lower-end industries, she said.

In China, schooling of children, medical care, real estate assets and vehicle purchases are usually associated with hukou status, especially in major metropolises like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

Zhao Mengjiao, a 28-year-old worker at a website in Beijing, said she has long wanted a Beijing hukou, but the credit point system has not made the application any easier.

"The application process could be an endless wait as the competition will undoubtedly be fierce," she said.

Tongzhou population to be capped at 2 million

Beijing has set a population cap of 2 million for the high-profile Tongzhou district, its municipal subsidiary administrative centre, to ensure the centre's healthy growth, the capital's deputy mayor said on Thursday.

"Beijing will take steps to avoid a population boom in Tongzhou district," Li Shixiang said.

The eastern suburb has a registered permanent population of 870,000, Li said.

The capital also set itself a maximum population of 23 million, not far above the current population of more than 21 million.

Building of a new subsidiary administrative centre in Tongzhou will draw approximately 400,000 residents from downtown to the suburban district, the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning said.

In addition to the administrative shift, the move is also expected to promote tourism and commerce in Tongzhou, the commission said.

The deputy mayor made the remarks at a news conference out-lining achievements in the integrated development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province.

Transferring some of the municipal administration from downtown to the eastern suburb could facilitate Beijing focusing on its core functions as a national capital and ease urban problems like traffic congestion and pollution.

Sound bites

"The large number of migrant workers in the city has already overwhelmed the city's capacity. I cannot imagine the city expanding further to nearby Hebei province."

Chen Yun, a 27-year-old public relations manager in Beijing's Chaoyang district

"Even though my work comes with relatively low pay, it seems that I have made the right choice. The hukou status will be much more difficult after the regulation comes into force."

Xiao Na, a 25-year-old woman who works at a Beijing public institution

"The move will help establish a regular system to allow migrant workers to settle in the city. It will help reduce the corruption that was generated in the hukou system previously."

Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance

"A Beijing hukou is not really that attractive to me. I am here only because I have a job here. With the sprawling air pollution and traffic gridlocks, I never planned to stay for long here."

Liu Dandan, a 24-year-old worker at a fashion company in Beijing