Guangzhou faces flood of migrants

PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 21 May, 1999, 12:00am

Guangzhou is bracing for a flood of migrants under new policies that will allow more than 180,000 people to become residents in the next five years.

The migrants, mostly children of Guangzhou residents, have been unable to obtain city residency because their mothers are residents elsewhere.

Under the mainland's old residency guidelines, the residency of a child was determined matrilineally.

But a municipal notice announced yesterday that children were entitled to Guangzhou residency, providing that either their mother or father was a resident. Spouses and parents of Guangzhou residents also are permitted to apply for residency.

The policy changes were formed under State Council guidelines introduced last July to allow family members to legally reside in the same city.

Guangzhou, with a population of 6.7 million, is the mainland's first major municipality to announce its plans to implement the policy.

Beyond the estimated 180,000 entitled to immediate residency, the city is also preparing for a population increase of 30,000 per year as a result of the wider eligibility pool.

The costs to the city would be massive, said He Wuai, a senior official of the municipal planning committee.

The city would have to spend more than 1.7 billion yuan (HK$1.5 billion) per year on its new population, more than 10 per cent of annual city-controlled revenue.

Mr He said the city budgeted 650 yuan per year to cover medical expenses for each resident.

Food provision accounted for 150 yuan per capita per year and payments to each unemployed worker cost the city between 4,000 and 5,000 yuan.

Each child at elementary school, middle school, vocational school and senior middle school cost the city 1,700 yuan, 2,600 yuan, 4,600 yuan and 6,400 yuan respectively per year, Mr He said.

But Guangzhou's situation was better than other major municipalities, he said. In Shanghai, officials believe as many as 1.7 million people are eligible to residency under the State Council guidelines.

Under the Guangzhou regulations, any child whose mother or father is a Guangzhou resident is entitled to residency. Spouses of residents can apply providing they have been married for 15 years, have fixed accommodation and a steady income.

Parents whose only child is a Guangzhou resident can apply for residency providing the mother is at least 55 and the father at least 60.