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The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Collective reflections about development practice and cities


A household registration reform to become Urban Citizen. Letter from China

By Ding Liu, on 9 March 2012

It’s been quite a time since I left DPU. How I missed all the teachers and classmates when I was looking at a photo of the room 201 on Facebook!  Every one at DPU is moving along in their paths in life. I think DPU is an interchange point for many of these different pathways – how interesting and amazing!

I am also moving on in my own pathway.  Now I am working at the development department of county level government in the city of Chongqing. Last year I was responsible for the local household registration reform led by Chongqing Municipal Government, the Chongqing’s reform is likely to make a breakthrough in the development of rural areas in China. The government intends to remove the discrimination between the urban dwellers with a non-agricultural Hukou and the rural people who have an agricultural one, in terms of social security, medical care, education and a series of barriers that stand in the way of the development of average agricultural people.

The household registration reform is a huge and long-lasting systematic project, which encompasses not just identity change, but also related social security construction, urban development and institution adjustment. At present, Chongqing is just in the early stages of this – transforming an agricultural Hukou to an urban Hukou; compensating pensions for the older people living in rural areas; building more houses for the rural immigrants; scaling up the size of the townships; and taking measures to increase the value of the agricultural land, through which it can increase the assets value of the peasants, and so on. In the past year 2011, Chongqing’s total number of agricultural people who became citizens holding urban Hukou [3,000,000 in my county] increased by more than 35,000. I am confident that, in the foreseeable future, the discriminated Agricultural Hukou will totally disappear and all citizens will have the equal rights of development.

My job is of great meaning to the rural people and that inspires me to do better.

Another important note about China’s future development plan is that in the recent central government conference ‘social construction’ has been proposed as the keyword for the development of China in 2012. Given that China’s social organisations have been poorly developing under the current political system, this conference has offered a sign that social actors are being considered an important aspect of the development of the country in the future. I believe that in the year 2012 deep and profound changes will happen in China. It is exciting and inspiring to be part of this social progress and witness the historic turning point.

No matter how exactly the reform is received in its infancy, we will do the best we can to fulfill its goal in the future.

I appreciate the time I spent at the DPU. What I learnt there is hard to describe but it is greatly influencing my thoughts and behavior at present. I wish for the students from all around the world studying at the unit to make great contributions to the development of their country and bring real well-being to their people through innovative projects and approaches.

Ding Liu. DPU Alumnus
Deputy Director
Development and Reform Commissions of Wuxi | County Chongqing China