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Becoming an urban resident –but where?

May 9, 2014

konjaku: in the tidal drift of migration, many flow to the large cities. An unskilled worker may think there will be more jobs in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, simply because the pace of new development in these seems faster compared to mid-sized cities, but there is also a fascination with setting out from a remote place in the countryside and actually making a go of it in these well known places. Now the government will offer urban residency to migrants, but perhaps not in the cities which have a hold on their imaginations and desires. Where people will settle will be determined by a credit system, which I will investigate in the next several posts.



The curtain opens for 100 million farmers to become urban residents –settling in the big city is not a completely impossible dream

The other day, the “National Urbanization Plan 2014-2020” was released. Taking “human-centered urbanization” as the core, by 2020 the plan provides for 100 million people to settle in cities. By 2020 about sixty percent of the resident population [those who have lived continuously in one place but do not have permanent residency] will be urbanized, and 45% of the registered permanent residence population will be urbanized. With a great effort, about 100 million of the transitioning population [from rural to urban] will move to cities.

According to the analysis of Xu Xianping, the national reform committee deputy director, those born in rural areas in the ‘80s and ’90s who are now migrant workers numbers over 100 million. Those who have been members of the floating population for five years or more numbers 50 million. Those who have migrated with their whole family consists of 55 million. By 2020, among the resident population in cities, those villagers who have migrated with their whole family will reach 300 million. First, the 100 million have to be settled, “this is not only possible, it is absolutely necessary.”

Xu Hongcai, the international finance exchange information department head, said that transforming 100 million into urban residents in six years is possible, but finding employment for all those people will be formidable task. This shows the governments nerve and resolution.

In addition, the plan calls for a method of granting residency across a spectrum of needs and requirements. The population of especially large cities over 5 million will be strictly controlled. This has caused many to worry: is there any hope that migrant workers like themselves will be able to live in a big city like Beijing, Guangzhou, or Shanghai?

Public Security Vice-Minister Huang Ming considers, “I don’t want to say there is no hope.” There is hope, but this hope is more likely if it is some other big city, even more likely that they can become permanent residents in a small to medium sized city. First we have to resolve to what extent we will assign residency to those who have lived in the city a long time, and to those who have good qualifications to be employed. Will we grant a higher percentage of residency applications to high school and college graduates, technical school graduates and skilled workers?

He pointed out that the permanent residency system has to be completely reformed. The process needs to be transparent, impartial, orderly, and at a controlled pace.

Xu Hongcai said that for migrant workers there is still hope, but the threshold will be high, the amount who get residency will be relatively small. The credit system will create different opportunities for different people, but the details have not been worked out yet. He urges migrant workers to take a pragmatic attitude, and not aim for the sky when something near at hand is available.

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