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Prospects for reform of the hukou system are only slightly better. Both Chengdu and Chongqing have been experimenting with this. They have declared that holders of rural hukou in the countryside surrounding these cities can move into urban areas and enjoy the same welfare benefits as their urban counterparts without giving up their land entitlements. This was an important step. Though the hukou divide is widely resented, peasants have often been reluctant to give up their rural status for fear of losing their land, as well as the added benefit in the countryside of being able to have two children rather than one. In effect, Chongqing and Chengdu have created a new class of urban residents who enjoy the best of both worlds. But grand plans for hukou reform have fallen by the wayside before as officials tot up the price. The cities of Guangzhou and Zhengzhou abandoned reform efforts several years ago because of worries about the cost.


Chongqing’s plans are ambitious. Local officials estimate the cost of converting 3m people at around 200 billion yuan ($30 billion). But the municipality says it wants to double the number of urban hukou holders by turning 10m of its rural citizens (some of whom already live in urban areas) into card-carrying urbanites over the next ten years. It has made a rapid start. Since it relaxed its policy in August last year it has given urban hukou to more than 1.7m people. There are conditions: they must have been working in urban areas for at least three years, or for five years if they want to transfer their hukou to the centre of Chongqing.


The reform remains only partial. The benefits of being a Chongqing urbanite still cannot be transferred to any other part of the country. And if implementing such measures nationwide means raising more taxes, urbanites will dig in their heels. Local governments “don’t really have the incentives and they don’t have the resources” to encourage greater integration of migrants into urban life, says the World Bank’s Mr Kuijs.


Although Chinese officials define the population as being already nearly 50% urban, the number of urban hukou holders is only around 35%. Zhang Zheng of Peking University says many of those who have moved to urban areas in recent years are wrongly seen as permanent migrants. Having reached their 30s or 40s, when they can no longer do mind-numbing, fast-paced and finicky work on production lines, they will often go back to the countryside. Late last year the National Bureau of Statistics asked rural hukou holders in the north-eastern province of Jilin whether they wanted to switch to urban status. “The results were surprising,” one of the bureau’s researchers wrote. The majority said no, and most young people who had moved to urban areas said they wanted to go back to the countryside when they got older.

尽管中国政府界定人口已经达到接近50%城镇化,农村户口的持有者数量仅有约35%。北京大学的Zhang Zheng说,最近这些年移居到城镇地区的许多人都被错误的视为永久民工。他们年纪到了30或者40多岁时,就不会再在生产线上做头脑简单、节奏快而细琐的工作。他们通常都会回到乡下。去年下半年国家统计局询问东北省份吉林的农村户口持有人是否愿意转换成城镇户口。“结果令人吃惊”,统计局的一位研究人员写到。大多数都说“不”,大多数迁移到城镇地区的年轻人说他们想年纪大一点回到乡下的。

重点单词   查看全部解释    
ambitious [æm'biʃəs]


adj. 有雄心的,有抱负的,野心勃勃的

reluctant [ri'lʌktənt]


adj. 不情愿的,勉强的

collective [kə'lektiv]


adj. 集体的,共同的
n. 集体

finicky ['finiki]


adj. 苛求的,过分讲究的

switch [switʃ]


n. 开关,转换,鞭子
v. 转换,改变,交换

expansion [iks'pænʃən]


n. 扩大,膨胀,扩充



adj. 被允许的 v. 允许(permit的过去分词)

cautious ['kɔ:ʃəs]


adj. 十分小心的,谨慎的

trend [trend]


n. 趋势,倾向,方位
vi. 倾向,转向

impact ['impækt,im'pækt]


n. 冲击(力), 冲突,影响(力)




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