China’s Residency Registry Policy: Huiko

Population mobility is one of the features of political China; where the people’s movement within the country are highly regulated by the state. Since the founding of New China; the policy on residency registry or Huiko policy has undergone 3 stages of liberation: free movement before 1958, strict control between 1958-1978 and semi-liberation from 1978. On July 22, 1998, the State Council put in place a major policy to further liberalize the mobility of Chinese citizens within their country. Three key areas of reform were instituted: newborns are to stay with their parents, flexibility in consideration of separated spouses and lastly, for investors and home purchasers to reside in a city other than their native origin.

Due the need to placate the demands of a vast number of migrant population, some cities have pioneered innovation in this arrangement long before the reforms. An arrangement called the “blue chop household accounts” were practiced in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Hainan. For employment, house ownership, tax residency and investment; after a stipulated period of time, one can apply for residency status in these cities. Beijing is more cautious in granting residency status, however it does grant “Beijing municipal residence permit” to professionals and researchers who worked in the city’s numerous high technology and multinational corporate headquarters.

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