Capital tightening hukou system to limit migrants

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 May, 2011, 12:00am


The Beijing municipal authorities have tightened up the widely criticised household registration, or hukou, system to curb the influx of migrants to the capital, according to a mainland media report.

Holding a certificate of residency entitles residents and other holders to participate in many social and welfare programmes at that location.

But this year, a ceiling of 6,000 hukou slots has been set for graduates from Beijing universities who are from somewhere else, the 21st Century Business Herald reported yesterday.

This year's quota was only one-third of last year's, the newspaper said.

Only 1,000 new hukou slots have been given to Haidian district for new non-local graduates. Haidian is where the city's largest cluster of universities and hi-tech companies is based.

The 16 other jurisdictions (districts, counties and an economic development zone) have to share the remaining 5,000 slots.

Human resources consultants estimated Beijing would have more than 220,000 fresh graduates this year, the Beijing Daily reported.

The lowered ceiling could mean non-local graduates may not stay in the capital if holding hukou meant much to them. Beijing is tightening its entrance requirements for both university graduates and migrants.

According to Ma Xiaohong, associate professor at Beijing Administrative College, the city saw an average increase of 140,000 new hukou holders per year from 2006 to last year, the Herald reported.

But until 2020, the annual average would have to be lowered to about 100,000 if the authorities stuck to the targeted population.

Despite the criticism of its discriminatory nature, the hukou system is increasingly used to control population growth, tame housing prices and restrict the number of cars in large cities.

According to last year's census, migrants make up over one-third of Beijing's population.

But thanks also to these young workers, the proportion of the city's population aged 60 and older is only 12.5 per cent, even lower than the national average of 13.26 per cent.

White-collar corporate employees in cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, many of whom do not hold local household registrations, say they are surprised to find that hukou can be still so important.

The system, however, offers only temporary relief to cities experiencing excessive population growth, skyrocketing housing prices and massive road congestion.