Chinese cities invite migrants (but only if they are college graduates) due to population shortages
by Wang Zhicheng

Cities are losing residents at a time when they suffer from a large number of vacant residential units and labour shortages. Getting a residency permit (hukou) is now easier. Several cities will allow migrants to settle if they are graduates or university students. By 2020, China plans to grant new residency permits to 100 million people.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China’s National Development and Reform Commission released its 2019 urbanisation plan today. In it, the Commission calls for lifting restrictions on new domestic migrants, specifically for cities with a population under three million, whilst cities with populations between three to five million should “comprehensively relax permanent residency requirements”.

Until now, migrants have been used as a cheap labour force. To avoid spending money on them, city governments did not allow them to use their social services (pension, medical services, schools) by restricting access to the local residency permit (hukou), which was introduced under Mao Zedong as a means to control urbanisation.

Now however, many Chinese cities are losing people due to a low birth rate, a consequence of 30 years of one child policy.

In many cities, labour shortages hinder economic development. For this reason, migrants are now welcome. They are need to breathe new life into the construction industry and fill tens of millions of housing units built during the boom of the past few years.

Some restrictions still remain. Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, last week said that it would grant permanent residency to migrants with a college education and above.

In Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Hebei province, the authorities announced last month a “zero threshold” policy for domestic migrants.

Xian said that any Chinese citizen with a university degree could become a permanent resident of the city.

According to a plan published in 2016, China will grant permanent residency in cities to 100 million people by 2020.

Despite the changes, some cities remain off-limits. Beijing expelled hundreds of thousands of migrants in November 2017,