Beijing’s reform agenda

The sacking of Mr Bo [Xilai, former party secretary of Chongqing] signals that the party will continue on its pragmatic and centralist policy set long-ago by Deng Xiaoping. It has now been widely recognised that the reform process stalled in the last decade. However, it was a key theme in Mr Wen’s address to the recently-concluded annual People’s Congress. It seems that this was not just lip service, but would be backed by real actions.

An example is the government’s new hukou, or household, registration policy. In small cities and towns, people can register as local residents as long as they have a job and a home (even if it is rented). In medium-sized cities, people can do the same if they have worked and lived there for three consecutive years. This new policy, if it is carried out as outlined, will end the discrimination against migrant workers. Its impacts on China’s political and social landscapes will be felt only after it is fully implemented.

Yao Yang, “Bo purge shows reform is back on Beijing’s agenda“, The A-List, Financial Times, 20 March 2012.

Yao Yang (born 1964) is director of the China Center for Economic Research at Peking University. He has a PhD in development economics from the University of Wisconsin and a BS in economic geography from Peking University.

I was unaware of the relaxation of China’s household registration policy. This will be welcomed by thousands of migrant workers who will gain access to social benefits previously denied them, such as healthcare, old age pensions and public schools.

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