China, the country with the largest population in the world has just found another 14 million people which are equal to about one percent of its total population of 1.37 billion (as of 2013).
On Friday (March 24th), China’s Ministry of Public Security announced that they had helped register the remaining unrecorded 14 million population on the country’s household registration record system, known as hukou which is linked to a person’s legal identity. Apparently, the group was never officially registered in the record system (hukou), which means until now they didn’t officially exist.
The hukou system which was introduced during 1958 by the communist party, not only documents a person’s birthplace and address, but also family members and marriages. A person barely exists on paper in China without a hukou. Moreover, it is also mandatory for people for getting access to basic social services such as schooling, health care and pensions.
The concept of family registration traces its roots back thousands of years to a system introduced by Xia Dynasty rulers as a form of social control. It was meant to restrict urban migration. But, more than a year ago, the country suddenly decided to make the registration easier.
According to The Quartz, a notice from China’s cabinet, the State Council, in December 2015 reads, “it is a basic legal right for citizens to lawfully register for hukou.” The notice considered many categories of unregistered citizens who could now apply. Take for an instance, children who are born to single parents or are born in contravention of the one-child policy can apply under the condition which states that the child must have a birth certificate and the hukou of either parent.
In an attempt to refrain the population from growing, China made hukou registrations for a second child very expensive. When the one-child policy was replaced by two-child policy in 2015, it became necessary to pay a huge fine for a child born out of the quota to get a hukou. As a result, this drove China to become a country with the first priority for boys, particularly in the rural areas which still farm, while prohibiting girls from the hukou system.
It has been tough for migrants from rural areas of China to permanently settle in the cities, as services are tied to a person's registered residence, ultimately limiting mobility. Hukou reform targets only certain migrants, usually those with higher education or decent employment records in big cities such as the capital Beijing and Shanghai.
Information source: Quartz
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