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Xinhua Insight: Loosening household registration lights up "dark" lives

English.news.cn   2014-05-06 21:33:17

by Xinhua writers Hu Tao, Wang Haiying

BEIJING, May 6 (Xinhua) -- Li Xue, 21, a native Beijinger, has been struggling for 16 years for her household registration. The "black kid" lives in the capital like "a shadow with no status."

On Monday, Li received notice from a local court on her suit against a police station for refusing her application for "hukou", China's system for registering one's place of residence.

Li is the second child of a family which broke the one-child policy. This is Li and her family's fourth legal action against the police station, following three previous failures.

"No school, no job, no trips by train, no chance of marriage. It is even impossible to buy a cold remedy from the pharmacy," Li said. She can do nothing without an identification card.

Li is just of roughly 13 million of China's "black" population without hukou, according to the sixth national census. Most of them. like Li, are unplanned children whose families have not paid the "social maintenance fee" demanded by family planning offices.

So many of these "black kids" are there, that some local governments have loosened hukou policy to require only a birth certificate, a radical change in policy which may put an end to the misery of millions of unregistered people.

STRUGGLE FOR HUKOU

The hukou system ties access to basic local welfare and public services to one's place of residence. In 1998, Li and her parents started an action against Beijing's Yongwai police station, which administer the household registration affairs of the family's neighborhood. After three attempts to obtain hukou for Li, only answer has been: "You can only get hukou after presenting a birth certificate and paying the social maintenance fee."

Li was born in 1993 to a handicapped mother and sick father with a monthly income of about 2,000 yuan (currently about 320 U.S. dollars). With no ID, she could not go to school or even take vocational training classes.

"I can't stand a life with no legal identity anymore. My parents broke the one-child policy, why should I suffer this dark life?" asked Li. "I can not borrow a book from the library or get a position as a hourly worker. It is so horrible to think of the life if my parents left me," said Li.

"The household registration ordinance states that authorities must register all Chinese citizens with no additional conditions," said Zhou Lei, an attorney with Beijing Longan.

On the basis of social management, registration should not be linked to the social maintenance fee, according to Li Yonglan, researcher with Shandong Academy of Social Sciences. It is an unauthorized policy by local governments and their family planning offices who have failed to control extra births and collect social maintenance fees.

China's family planning policy, put in place in the late 1970s, was designed to curb population growth. In February, movie director Zhang Yimou paid 7.48 million yuan after he admitted having two sons and a daughter, all extra births.

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Editor: Yang Yi
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