28 January 2020
Xi'an's efforts to more young talents into the city will serve a number of purposes. Photo: Xinhua
Xi'an's efforts to more young talents into the city will serve a number of purposes. Photo: Xinhua

Why Xi’an has turned aggressive in luring talents

Xi’an, one of China’s 45 second-tier cities, recently unveiled one of the most aggressive policies in the country to lure young talents. People who have university degree will be offered a Hukou, or household registration, immediately.

Xi’an used to the ancient capital city during 13 dynasties and served as the economic hub for centuries. However, the place has been struggling with diminishing influence in modern times as the China’s political center shifted to Beijing and the economic hub moved to eastern coastal region.

Now the capital city of Shaanxi province, the inland city has been relaxing the Hukou policy for young talents over the last couple of years.

Under the latest rule, those under 45 with university degree will be granted a Hukou in the city immediately. College students are welcome, as well as entrepreneurs who have registered a business in the city.

Xi’an has brought in 800,000 people last year, boosting the city’s total population with Hukou to above 9 million. The city aims to increase that to 12 million by 2020.

The city’s talent policy is going to serve a number of purposes.

For starters, Xi’an’s housing market has been easing since the second half of last year. The rising property inventory has put pressure on local government finances as land sales revenue has become harder to come by.

By attracting more people to the city, authorities can hope that the newcomers will provide support to the local housing market.

China’s total population is expected to contract from 2027 onwards due to dramatically falling birth rate. In this situation, young people will become critical resources. More so, as the country plans to rely more on consumption to propel the economy forward.

Though Xi’an has won support from the central government, it is not alone in eyeing talents across China. Guangzhou, Haikou, Dalian, Changhzou and Nanjing have all released similar measures. One should expect more local governments to join the battle for talents, especially young talents.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 19

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist