Beijing is piloting a points system that opens the door for rural migrants to gain local residency status, along with greater access to public services and social welfare.
The experiment involving the eastern Beijing suburb of Tongzhou eases decades-old curbs on rural-urban migration, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
It comes at a time when other large cities are testing ways to allow migrant residents to settle permanently.
Altogether, 62 cities and regions are involved in the pilot scheme, the report said, citing state news agency Xinhua.
Under the program unveiled by the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, migrant workers can accumulate points based on stability of employment, accommodation, social security and length of stay, among other factors.
Migrants who produce the required points can apply for a local hukou, or household registration, and thereafter enjoy similar rights and social benefits as local residents.
China has for years pushed to urbanize its population of nearly 1.4 billion people, of which about 46 percent still in live in rural areas.
But authorities have also sought to prevent rural migrants from overwhelming its cities through the household registration regime that ties benefits such as healthcare and pensions to a person’s place of birth.
The hukou system, which dates back to the 1950s, prevents rural people who move to cities from becoming official urban residents and receiving access to the local social welfare system, including public education.
Last year, the central government pledged some changes to the hukou system, with restrictions to be lifted first in small towns.
More stringent requirements will remain on those who want to live in larger cities, which are generally more attractive to migrants.
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