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Changes in hukou policies to enable easier flow of people

Ma Si
Updated: May 7,2019 9:22 AM     China Daily

China’s efforts to reduce the barriers for hukou or household registration will encourage the free flow of people in the nation, and should not be construed as attempts to ease curbs on the real estate sector, the country’s top economic regulator said on May 6.

Chen Yajun, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission, said no matter how the household registration system is reformed, the principle that “houses are for living in, not for speculation” must be adhered to.

“The bottom line is to ensure the stable and healthy development of the real estate industry and we will work hard to resolutely prevent speculators from getting involved in the process,” Chen said.

His comments came after the central authorities announced a string of key measures on May 5 to further integrate the country’s rural and urban areas and encourage the transfer of people and resources across the entire nation. Under the plan, China will relax restrictions on new migrants to second and third-tier cities as it plans to gradually remove limits on hukou registration in cities by 2022.

Cai Jiming, a political and economics expert at Tsinghua University, said relaxing the hukou policy will promote the cross-region flow of labor, boost social productivity and increase the incomes and spending of rural residents.

“But the move is never meant to allow the real estate sector to experience fluctuations. Instead, only when housing prices stand at a reasonable level can migrant workers really settle down in cities,” Cai said.

China has made steady progress in urbanization, as the ranks of permanent urban residents stood at 831 million at the end of 2018, up 17.9 million from the previous year, said the National Bureau of Statistics.

Last month, the National Development and Reform Commission said it plans to increase the urbanization rate by at least 1 percentage point by the end of this year.

On May 6, the National Development and Reform Commission also highlighted the reform will not be carried out selectively and only targets the elite. Instead, more efforts will be made to ensure that migrant workers can benefit from the new policy.

“The migrant workers who have been working and living in cities for a long time with families are the focus group,” Chen said, adding that the policy should not be misinterpreted as a way for cities to attract professional talent.