China to make it easier for citizens to settle in small and medium-sized cities

China will reduce hindrances for its citizens in the hope of permanently settling in small and medium-sized cities, state media said on Thursday, but amendments in the huges cities such as the capital Beijing will be more less. The public safety ministry will be in favor of the “comprehensive lifting” of urban settlement restrictions in cities with a permanent resident population of less than three million and “fully relax” settlement conditions for cities with a permanent resident population of three to five million, Beijing Daily reported.

The move shows that elements of China’s 14th five-year plan declared in 2021 are being enforced and marks more relaxation of the hukou household registration system which for many years has caused people to separate along urban-rural lines and thus determining their availability to welfare, education and services. Under the hukou system, hundreds of millions staying and working in China’s cities have not been able to savour the same availability of services as those with permanent residency.

This has led to much resentment, for example because children, who are prohibited to go to schools in several cities, have had to go back to their distant home towns and live away from their parents. Over the past decade, a number of cities, in some cases in pilot schemes, have relaxed these policies. Last month, the eastern province of Zhejiang said it would lift all such restrictions for all cities dispite for its capital Hangzhou. Thursday’s declaration signals a much bigger, nationwide relaxation. China’s hugest cities, also along with its richest, have the best schools and hospitals and are known to provide the best job opportunities.