Beijing police might scrap permit system

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 January, 2005, 12:00am

After suggestions that the Beijing People's Congress will abolish a 1995 regulation that restricts migrant residents in the capital, the city's police say they might drop a corresponding permit system.

An unnamed official from the Beijing Public Security Bureau yesterday was quoted by the Beijing News as saying that if everything went smoothly, the 'temporary residency permit' system might be scrapped by July.

If both suggestions were adopted, Beijing city would be abandoning one of the most discriminatory treatments it has imposed on migrant residents for many years.

Under the permit system, migrant residents are required to register with police and apply for a temporary permit if they stay in Beijing for longer than a month.

Beijing has a floating population of about 3.5 million, including migrant workers, students, businesspeople and travellers. Under the existing systems, migrant residents can only rent houses or rooms if they possess a temporary residency permit. They also need the permit if they want to open a shop or apply for a business licence.

Academics have long called for an end to the system and their calls have become louder since 2003 with the introduction of Administrative Approval Law, which tightened the approval authority of government departments.

Tsinghua University legal expert Xu Zhangrun said the Beijing rules contradicted the national legislation because the approval law did not specify that residents' rights could be regulated through administrative permits.

Mr Xu said the permit system had to go because it created a gap between local residents and migrants and was a sign of disrespect to the latter.

Contributors to municipal online discussions have been split over the proposed changes. Many remain in favour of the residency limits because of the population's heavy toll on the city's resources and public transport system.

Beijing has a population of 15 million. The municipal government aims to limit population growth to 1.4 per cent a year, with about 18 million residents by 2020.