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Move to grant migrants public services gathers pace

China Daily, February 29, 2016 Adjust font size:

China's top economic planner is drawing up guidelines to grant migrants more access to basic public services, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said.

"China has made much progress in settling migrant workers in cities," said Chen Yajun, an urban planning official with the NDRC.

China's urbanization rate hit 56.1 percent in the past year with 770 million urban residents, according to official data.

During the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-15), the annual urbanization rate attained 1.23 percentage points, which is "a very notable improvement," said Chen. "An annual increase of 20 million urban residents has exceeded the total population of a medium-sized European country."

Hu Angang, a professor at Tsinghua University, predicted that about 70 percent of the Chinese population will be in cities by 2030, energizing service industries and overall national economic growth.

However, an increase in size doesn't mean the quality of urbanization is satisfactory - "hukou reform lags in urbanization process," said Chen, noting that only around 40 percent people living in cities are actually registered urban residents.

"We are figuring out more detailed plans this year to deepen reform of the household registration system and to encourage local government to provide more public service to residents with residency permits," said Chen.

Residency permits will allow migrants to become permanent urban residents if they meet certain requirements, such as making social insurance payments over a period of time.

Local government in 27 provinces have so far issued drafts and sent them out for pubic consultation, according to Chen.

"By the end of 2020, around 100 million rural-urban migrants are expected to have urban hukou, but for the remaining 200 million migrants, we probably have to pin on residence permits to make sure that they are as equally eligible to receive benefits as other people," Chen added.