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Urban, Rural Household Registration to Be Unified

China is reforming its household registration system to gradually eliminate urban-rural division and bolster social equality, according to sources attending a national conference on public security on Thursday.

Twelve provincial areas, including Hebei, Liaoning, Shandong, Guangxi and Chongqing, have launched trial reforms to stop the differentiation between rural and urban residents.

Beijing, Shanghai and some cities in Guangdong Province have loosened restrictions to make rural people change their identification.

Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province is also making trial reform on the household registration system, and the reform will be spread across the province in 2007.

Set up in 1958, China's household registration, or hukou, system divides the population into rural households and non-rural households, and individual rights such as education, healthcare, housing and employment are closely linked with household registration.

Under the system, rural citizens have little access to the social welfare in cities, although many have lived and worked in cities for years. In the past decades, China has witnessed a mass migration of rural labor to urban areas.

It is estimated that more than 120 million migrant rural workers have moved to cities in search of work.

(Xinhua News Agency March 30, 2007)

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