The nation’s top planning authority said on April 19 that all provinces and municipalities should issue plans to help migrants from rural areas acquire urban residential status by the end of this year.
As of the end of last year, 27 local governments at provincial and municipal levels had issued plans to speed up the change, while some retained an eligibility threshold too high for migrants to attain, according to Xu Lin, head of the Department of Development Planning under the National Development and Reform Commission.
“Allowing more migrants to acquire urban status and help improve their living standards are among core targets for achieving the urbanization goal by the end of 13th Five-Year Plan,” Xu said, referring to the 2016-20 plan period.
For around 200 million migrants who still might not be eligible to get urban registration status by 2020, China will expand the range of benefits available to them by issuing more temporary residence permits and gradually equalizing their benefits compared with urban residents, Xu said.
China pledged to help 100 million rural migrants and their families settle permanently in cities, an approach designed to ensure that 45 percent of people living in cities have urban hukou, or urban housing registration, before 2020－not an easy task, Xu said.
Official data shows that the proportion of people holding urban hukou increased from about 34 percent to nearly 40 percent over the last five years, a “notable” improvement, according to Zhou Hongchun, a researcher in the State Council’s Development Research Center.
Adding more people to the urban registration system means local governments must invest more in public services, which is a major challenge, Zhou said.
But officials should not regard the settling of migrants as “something like a burden”, Zhou said.
“Migrants will help the economic restructuring process move toward a consumption-led model because they tend to adopt new consumption habits, just as urban residents do.”