|Alternative Chinese name|
A hukou is a record in the system of household registration required by law in both mainland China and Taiwan (but not Hong Kong and Macau). The system itself is more properly called "huji", and has origins in ancient China.
A household registration record officially identifies a person as a resident of an area and includes identifying information such as name, parents, spouse, and date of birth. A hukou can also refer to a family register in many contexts since the household registration record (simplified Chinese: 户口簿; traditional Chinese: 戶口簿; pinyin: hùkǒu bù) is issued per family, and usually includes the births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and moves, of all members in the family.
The system descends in part from ancient Chinese systems of household registration, which also influenced neighbouring countries. In present times, a similar household registration system exists within the public administration structures of Japan (koseki), Vietnam (Hộ khẩu), and North Korea (Hoju). In South Korea, the Hoju system was abolished on 1 January 2008. While unrelated in origin, propiska in the Soviet Union had a similar purpose.
- 1 Nomenclature
- 2 History
- 3 Household registration in China
- 4 Household registration in Taiwan
- 5 Special administrative regions
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
- 9 External links
The formal name for the system is "huji." Within the huji system, a "hukou" is the registered residency status of a particular individual in this system. "Hukou" is more commonly used in everyday conversation. "Hukou" has been adopted by English-language audiences to refer to both the huji system and an individual's hukou.
Family registers were in existence in China as early as the Xia Dynasty (c. 2100 BCE - 1600 BCE). In the centuries which followed, the family register developed into an organization of families and clans for purposes of taxation, conscription and social control.
According to the Examination of Hukou in Wenxian Tongkao published in 1317, there was a minister for population management during the Zhou Dynasty named Simin (Chinese: 司民), who was responsible for recording births, deaths, emigrations and immigrations. The Rites of Zhou notes that three copies of documents were kept in different places. The administrative divisions in Zhou Dynasty were a function of the distance to the state capital. The top division nearest the capital was named Dubi (Chinese: 都鄙), top division in more distant areas were named Xiang (Chinese: 鄉) and Sui (Chinese: 遂). Families were organized under the Baojia system.
Guan Zhong, Prime Minister of the Qi state 7th century BCE, imposed different taxation and conscription policies on different areas. In addition, Guan Zhong also banned immigration, emigration, and separation of families without permission. In the Book of Lord Shang, Shang Yang also described his policy restricting immigrations and emigrations.
Xiao He, the first Chancellor of the Han Dynasty, added the chapter of Hu (Chinese: 户律, "Households Code") as one of the nine basic law codes of Han (Chinese: 九章律), and established the Hukou system as the basis of tax revenue and conscription.
Household registration in China
When the Communist Party came to power in 1949, they established a command economy. By 1958, they had created a family register system to control the movement of people between urban and rural areas, understanding that urban life was in much higher demand. Every citizen was marked as either "rural" or "urban," with the former needing a special permit if he desired to work inside a city.  The number of available permits was limited and the application process was difficult. If a citizen wanted to move across a province, he would need to complete six different application processes. If a citizen worked outside his authorized area, he wouldn't qualify for grain rations, employer-provided housing, or health care. There were restrictions upon education, employment, marriage, and so on.
With its large rural population of poor farm workers, hukou limited mass migration from the land to the cities to ensure some structural stability. The hukou system was an instrument of the command economy. By regulating labour, it ensured an adequate supply of low cost workers to the plethora of state owned businesses. Like the internal passports of the Soviet Union, the hukou system allowed the state to provide preferential treatment to industrial workers and intelligentsia who would be more likely to protest and even revolt during periods of unrest.
The Hukou system has been viewed by some scholars as instrumental to the political stability of China by better monitoring of "targeted persons", people who are politically dubious by the Party's standards. It is a type of institutional exclusion that helps to organize and manage the Chinese population, contributing to the Chinese economic growth but creating significant ethical problems. This is still a significant function as of 2006. Prior to the Chinese economic reform that began in the late 1970s, the system succeeded in limiting population growth in the cities.
From around 1953 to 1976, police periodically rounded up those who were without valid residence permits, placed them in detention centres, and expelled them from cities.
Although an individual is technically required to live in the area designated on his/her permit, in practice the system has largely broken down. After the Chinese economic reforms, it became possible for some[who?] to unofficially migrate and get a job without a valid permit. Economic reforms also created pressures to encourage migration from the interior to the coast. It also provided incentives for officials not to enforce regulations on migration.
Technology has made it easier to enforce the Hukou system as now the police force has a national database of official Hukou registrations. This was made possible by computerisation in the 1990s, as well as greater co-operation between the different regional police authorities.
During the Great Leap Forward's famine
During the mass famines of the Great Leap Forward from 1958 to 1962, a person being classified as "urban," as opposed to "rural," could mean the difference between life and death. This was because the 600 million "rural" citizens were forced to live inside communal farms, where food was allowed to leave but not to enter. After massive declines in agriculture, the remaining food in the communal farms was seized by government agents, leading to the deaths of more than 30 million "rural" citizens.
The 100 million "urban" citizens, however, were fed by rations established by the central government. The rations declined to an average to 1500 calories per day, but this was still enough for survival. Thus, 95% of the famine deaths occured among "rural" citizens. As a result of the suppression of the news, many "urban" citizens weren't aware of the deaths taking place among the "rural" citizens, and thus were prevented from protesting Mao's policies.
Many "rural" citizens tried to enter the cities to beg for food, but security forces guarded the entry points and inspected each person's documents, leading to their deportation and death. Only when senior military officers started noticing the deaths of their "rural" family members did Mao finally end the program. This was the most restrictive period of the so-called family registration system. Only in the 1990s, though, did the system start to decline significantly.
Hukou serves four main purposes in China, with three of them being uniquely Chinese. First, Hukou stores information about citizens, provides them with identification documents, and certifies relation-ships and locatinos for residence. Second, Hukou determines the allocation of government benefits, giving a clear advantage to urban citizens. Third, Hukou lets the government clamp down on internal migration, especially rural to urban migration, thereby setting limits to the population of each city. This led to the benefit of reducing urban slums, unlike with other countries such as Brazil and India. Fourth, Hukou keeps track of the so-called targeted people in every neighborhood, which usually amounts to 5% of a community's total population. By spying on these people and restricting their rights, they are prevented from spreading dissent political opinions.
Effect on rural workers
The hukou system is closely associated with social issues regarding migration in China and excludes migrant workers, also known as farm workers or peasant workers, from city-wide social welfares in urban areas. From around 1953 to 1976, the restriction of a citizen's rights by his domicile caused rural citizens to be separated into an underclass. Urban citizens enjoyed a range of social, economic and cultural benefits that China's rural citizens did not receive. The ruling party did however make some concessions to rural workers to make life in rural areas more tolerable.
During China’s transition from state socialism to market socialism (1978-2001), migrants, most of whom were women, worked in newly created export-processing zones in city suburbs under sub-standard working conditions. There were restrictions upon the mobility of migrant workers that forced them to live precarious lives in company dormitories or shanty towns where they were exposed to abusive treatment.
The impact of the hukou system upon migrant laborers became onerous in the 1980s after hundreds of millions were ejected from state corporations and cooperatives. Since the 1980s, an estimated 200 million Chinese live outside their officially registered areas and under far less eligibility to education and government services, living therefore in a condition similar in many ways to that of illegal immigrants. The millions of peasants who have left their land remain trapped at the margins of the urban society. They are often blamed for rising crime and unemployment and under pressure from their citizens, the city governments have imposed discriminatory rules. For example, the children of migrant workers who move from rural areas to cities (Chinese: 农民工; pinyin: nóngmín gōng) are not allowed to enroll in the city schools, and even now must live with their grandparents or other relatives in order to attend school in their hometowns. They are commonly referred to as the home-staying children. There are around 130 million such home-staying children, living without their parents, as reported by Chinese researchers.
Reformation of Hukou has been controversial. The system is widely regarded as unfair, and yet, there is fear that its loosening would lead to a massive movement of people into the cities, which would cause the ruin of city-based government benefits. Also, such would damage the economies of rural places, and would cause social unrest and an increase in crime.
Several relaxations have happened since the 1990s. For example, rural citizens were allowed to buy "temporary urban residency permits," and the fee for these decreased as time went on. Furthermore, inheritance under Hukou was changed to recognize both paternal and maternal succession. In 2003, after protests over the death of Sun Zhigang, the laws that dealt with custody and repatriation were repealed. By 2004, over 100 million rural citizens were working in cities, according to the estimate of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture.
Kam Wing Chan (陳金永 Chén Jīnyǒng) and Buckingham's (2008) article, "Is China Abolishing the Hukou System?" argues that previous reforms have not fundamentally changed the hukou system, but have only decentralized the powers of hukou to local governments. They conclude that the hukou system remains active and continues to contribute to China's rural and urban disparity.
In March 2008, over 30 leading intellectuals wrote an open letter to the Government, asking for the "immediate abolition of the rural-urban dual hukou system." In 2008-09, web posted essays remarked the Hukou system as a "caste system" of China, and "China a great country of discrimination." The system is currently only partially enforced, and it has been argued that the system will have to be further relaxed in order to increase availability of skilled workers to industries.
In a speech given during the opening of the annual National People's Congress, on 6 March 2013, Premier Wen Jiabao called for speeding up reform of the Hukou system to advance urbanization "actively, yet prudently."
On December 4, 2014 the Legal Affairs Office of the State Council released for public comment a draft residence permit regulation proposing to abolish the hukou system in small cities and towns, while retaining substantial restrictions in large metropolitan areas, and gradually easing restrictions in medium-sized cities. The draft follows a recommendation of the third plenary of the Communist Party's 18th Party Congress, held in October 2013.
Household registration in Taiwan
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (October 2012)|
When Taiwan was under Japanese rule from 1895 to 1945, the Japanese government maintained the same system of household registration (koseki) as they did in other parts of the Empire. This system has remained to the present day. All ROC nationals can apply for an ROC passport, but household registration is mandatory for obtaining an ID card, which is often used as proof of citizenship, such as in national elections. An ID card is also necessary to open bank accounts. Unlike in China the Mainland, a person's location of residence can be easily changed by applying to the local authorities. Thus, the Taiwan version of Hukou doesn't serve as a tool to limit its citizen's movements.
Special administrative regions
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