12/28/2006, 00.00
CHINA
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“Temporary residence permit system for migrants illegal”

This was maintained by a group of lawyers in Henan defending the rights of migrants. Big cities use the regulation to keep unwanted migrants under control and to send them away. After exploiting migrants for years to get cheap labour, now more and more cities want to expel them.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A group of lawyers from Henan have sent a letter to the People's Congress and the State Council, claiming that the existing temporary residence permit system violates the law and should be revoked.

The letter also called for the abolition of the residential registry system introduced 20 years ago to prevent excessive migration to cities. In reality, Chinese cities have become megalopolises of millions of people, many of who are considered “illegal”.

Fan Honglie, one of the authors of the letter, said migrants, as Chinese citizens, did not need a temporary residence permit to move and live elsewhere in the country. He maintained that the permit is a typical administrative measure used to control migrants and to prevent them from staying permanently in a city.

According to official data, more than 100 million migrants have moved from the countryside to large cities. Many do not take up residence there to keep their right to their land and homes in the countryside, where they often leave their family. Now big cities, after becoming wealthy thanks to the low-paid work of the migrants, want to send them away for “security” reasons.

Seven months ago, for public security purposes, Beijing announced that migrants without a temporary residence permit must leave the city. Many analysts read this as an attempt to make the city more “orderly” in view of the 2008 Olympics.

 

This month, the government of Guangzhou in southern Guangdong said it may limit the number of migrant workers to alleviate the social problems they cause. One possibility is a ban on employment of migrant workers for some industries.

Su Baoling, a city official, said: “Guangzhou has long suffered from a poor public security situation because of burglary, robbery, theft and many other crimes, many of them committed by the migrant population.”

  

Official statistics reveal that of the 100,000 crimes reported every year during the past five years, 85% ended in the arrest of a migrant worker. But experts say migrants are often targeted by police and that it is the low-paid toil of migrants that fuels China’s prosperity and economic boom.

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