Friday, July 5, 2013

The Chinese "Hukou" System

If you read a previous blog you learned a little bit about how the one-child policy is not-so-subtly inforced. Second children are considered illegitimate, lacking citizenship. Household registration is equally effective. One student chose to do a  presentation on this interesting system.
Because I have no point of departure on this topic, it was hard to grasp the subtleties.  Perhaps you will do a better job of understanding the presentation.

"Hukou, the Chinese for 'household registration' gives an individual the legal right to live in a certain area and receive coinciding social benefits including medical treatment, social welfare, housing, children's education, a house, etc.  Foreigners, especially those from the United States where there is not eve a well-established ID system, find it hard to comprehend many policies, as well as systems, if they have no knowledge on this hukou system.  Even many Chinese know little about this system, although their lives are influenced in every aspect by it.  Therefore, I decided to choose 'hukou' as my topic.

"The hukous system today is a combination of two notions, with the Chinese traditional idea of registration, who history can be traced back 2000-3000 years ago, and a Soviet approach on "internal passport' weaved into an underlying system of civil administration.  Implemented in 1953, when China started its first five-year plan and the process of transferring into a socialist country, the ongoing system acts as a basement for the distribution network under the planned economy and an effective tool for the government to control it people.

"Under this system, China was able to achieve fast industrial development; scarce resources were able to be distributed into people's hand; peasants were prevented from "flooding into big cities blandly;" etc.  The government got into every aspect of every citizen's life.

"Nevertheless, problems brought by the system were becoming increasing sharp. Admittedly, the policy itself is not fair with citizens treated discriminatingly.  The "new thee mountains: over Chinese people's head, literally housing, education, and medical care problems were enlarged by the hukou system since every policy based on it treats people differently:  Is he or she an urban hukou holder or an agricultural hukou holder? In which part of the country does he or she come from?

"As for the future, even though every session of the government says that it will push forward hukou reforms, the main frame of it remains intact.  The only thing we can expect is that the newly elected government is different."

The student then showed a list of 4 prominent legal cases in which the people involved were prosecuted and jailed for doing exactly what your average real estate agent or real estate investor does in America. In one case, the women was given the death penalty.

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