BEIJING, June 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Authorities in Shanghai announced yesterday that they will ease controls over residency permit applications for non-locals starting next month.
The new regulation makes Shanghai the first Chinese metropolis to give nearly equal urban status to non-locals.
According to a new residency permit regulation issued yesterday, non-Shanghai residents can apply for a residence permit evaluation by accumulating 120 points, which are calculated using a number of factors including an applicants' age, education background, profession and work performance.
Sun Changmin, head of the Shanghai Population Association, said the regulation is a milestone in the reform of the existing population management system, which is based on household registration rather than one's actual place of residence.
Shanghai had a population of 23.8 million by the end of 2012, with nearly 10 million migrants.
The central government has underlined the need to help rural migrant workers become urban residents, calling it an important task for the country's urbanization drive.
The government has said that migrant workers should enjoy equal rights and benefits in subsidies, education of their children, public health, housing and cultural services. However, under current household registration, people are entitled to different welfare levels including education and endowment insurance, with urban residents in major cities enjoying more welfare services.
Lu Ming, a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said policy-makers of major cities need to balance carefully between allowing more migrants to enjoy the same welfare as local residents and the very limited capacity of the city.
Sun said the points-oriented residency permit system in Shanghai represents a good start in population management reform. This system allows people to obtain new points by improving themselves through education, professional skills as well as making more social contributions. The policy will benefit non-locals who can get the 120 points required by having a strong education background or professional skills, or doing jobs in fields that are urgently needed by the city.
Education accounts for a great deal of points, with a doctor's degree worth 110 points alone. Yet with excellent professional skills, non-local workers can obtain as many as 140 points if they are senior professionals or hold technical positions.
For non-local Shanghai residents, holding a residence card means their children can access the same educational resources as locals, as well as stand on the same footing as locals in terms of obtaining social welfare.
"The new points-based evaluation will provide a new method for more out-of-town people whose children want to enter high schools and colleges in Shanghai," said Mao Dali, deputy director of Shanghai Human Resources and Social Security Bureau, at a press conference yesterday. "They can calculate the points themselves and know which area they need to work hard to fill the gap."
Gu Meiyan, a Hunan Province native, said she will apply for the new Shanghai residence permit next month.
Gu, who has worked for five years at a local gas company, has a 14-year-old daughter studying in her hometown.
As a single mother, Gu said she wanted to bring her daughter to Shanghai. She now holds a temporary residence permit with which her daughter cannot sit for exams for local high schools.
Gu said she now has a goal in her mind to earn enough points to get her daughter to Shanghai.
Chen Dongfang, who works at an assembly line in an industrial park in Shanghai's Songjiang District, said, "If I can work long enough in Shanghai, my child can live with us and get the same educational opportunities as other kids in the city. It will all be worth it for all the hard work I and my wife have had to do in Shanghai."
Chen, from Henan Province, has worked for seven years in Shanghai.
The regulation also specifies points deduction clauses. For example, falsified records, once detected in an applicant's documentation, and criminal record can result in a loss of 150 points.
The influx of non-locals has forced the city to expand its public services like education, medical services and public rental housing.
"Shanghai will gradually open its public services to non-locals step by step," Mao said.
(Source: Shanghai Daily)