The hukou or residence permit system is a growing controversial topic in China. For newcomers in Chinese cities, there is growing stake in getting a hukou as it is often bundled with a package of welfare, including proper medical care, access to local education and in the case of Beijing, quotas for a property and automobile purchase. In a society clamoring for equity, the hukou poses an apparent obstacle. China's fast but uncoordinated development has created a gap among different regions and cities in terms of level of development. As more people flock into big cities searching for better jobs and higher pay, it is become all the more important to provide the new immigrants with equal welfare with the local residents. And the reform of the hukou system will be a key factor to make that happen.
So is time ripe to drastically reform China's hukou system? And where should we start?
Ni hao, you're listening to People In the Know, bringing you insights into the headline news in China and around the world, I'm Zheng Chenguang in Beijing.
We speak to Professor Chan Kam Wing of the Department of Geography, University of Washington and Professor Tao Ran of the School of Economics, at Renmin University of China.