February 13th, 2009
Here’s an interesting story: A family in Shunyi is upset because their township family planning office won’t let them register their child with an agricultural hukou (户口, residence registration). They want their child to have an agricultural registration because that will allow him to benefit from more favourable policies.
Village baby has difficulty getting village residence registration
Villager from Liqiao Township, Shunyi District not satisfied; local family planning bureau says non-agricultural registration encouraged, not forced
When a villager in Liqiao Township, Shunyi District was processing his child’s residence registration, he was notified by the township Family Planning Office that he could only enter a non-agricultural residence registration. Villager Mr Sun believes an agricultural residence registration can enjoy more favourable policies, and this rule is unreasonable. A worker at the local family planning department says that at present they encourage but do not force new borns to take a non-agricultural residence registration, and besides, “before plenty of people in this kind of situation entered a non-agricultural residence registration.”
Child refused agricultural residence registration
Villager Mr Sun of Liqiao Township, Shunyi District called this newspaper’s hotline saying that he and his wife both had Beijing agricultural residence registrations, and wanted their child to enter an agricultural residence registration. When they went to the township Family Planning Office to undertake the procedures last week, a worker informed them that according to the rules the child’s residence registration could only be entered as non-agricultural, otherwise it would not be processed.
“From earlier enquiries, taking an agricultural or non-agricultural residence registration were all ok.” Mr Sun believes that since both parents have agricultural residence registrations, any child they have should be able to enter an agricultural residence registration. Agricultural residence registrations can enjoy many policies benefiting rural areas, and the township’s rule is unreasonable.
Family Planning Office
Parents can freely choose their child’s residence registration
A worker from the Shunyi District Population and Family Planning Commission explained that in order to speed urbanisation, the district set a policy to encourage the registration of new borns as non-agricultural. According to Mr Sun’s situation, he can freely choose to register his child as “agricultural” or “non-agricultural”.
A worker from the Liqiao Township Family Planning Office said they were already aware of Mr Sun’s situation. The township had in fact put out a document advocating the registration of new borns as “non-agricultural”, but this was not a compulsory requirement. There was no need for Mr Sun to worry, non-agricultural residence registrations enjoy favourable policies and will not receive any less than agricultural residence permits.
“If he moves, what will he do about the earlier one?” This worker said that before many people in this kind of situation have all already entered a non-agricultural residence registration. If Mr Sun takes an agricultural residence registration, it could cause many problems. At present the Family Planning Office is talking things over with Mr Sun, “We’re doing all we can to think of a way to solve this for him.”
A worker from the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau Population Management Office said that as both parents had Beijing agricultural residence registrations, they can freely choose an “agricultural” or “non-agricultural” residence permit for the child.
Villager: Many advantages to agricultural residence permit
顺义区李桥镇村民孙先生认为，农业户口比非农业户口得到的好处要多。如果孩子入了非农业户口，村里分配宅基地和耕地时将不再有份；现有 的房屋和土地，孩子继承时会面临问题；自家房屋或土地拆迁，孩子拿到的补偿费用会减少。村集体收益分成、各级政府给予农村的各项补贴和优惠政策等，非农业 户口也都不能享受。
Liqiao Township, Shunyi District villager Mr Sun believes that an agricultural residence registration will bring many more benefits than a non-agricultural one. If the child enters a non-agricultural residence registration. If the child takes a non-agricultural residence registration, then when the village is alloting land for housing or cultivation, he won’t be alloted any. With the current house and land, when the child inherits it, he’ll run into problems. If his own family’s house or land are demolished or moved, the child will get less compensation. When the village’s collective profits are distributed or with subsidies and favourable policies from every level of government, those with non-agricultural residence registrations will get nothing.
First up, it seems fairly clear to me that there’s been some serious miscommunication between Mr Sun and his township Family Planning Office, quite possibly compounded by an overzealous local official.
But what a curious attitude! Sure, Mr Sun raises some real issues with housing, land and inheritance, and sure, we’re going to see more and more subsidies and other favourable policies extended to rural areas and farmers, but the countryside is slowly emptying out, has been for years. Rural schools are seeing their students disappear into townships, county towns and cities with better educational opportunities. Young rural people, regardless of whether they’re registered as “agricultural” or “non-agricultural”, are flooding into urban areas.
And in my experience, admittedly limited to two clans (Ma’s and Ba’s) mostly in Yanqing (but with still one or two of Ma’s clan staying in the ancestral village in Huailai), I cannot think of any rural parent I’ve met who wants their child to till the soil. Nor can I think of any rural child who wants to farm. lzh, her brother (her generation was born at a time when rural families in Beijing were legally allowed two children) and all her cousins are either studying or working in at least the county town, if not Beijing or other cities, in fields decidedly non-agricultural- fields as diverse as taxi driving, medicine, construction, translation and editing, casual labour… But nothing agricultural.
In fact, I sent lzh the link to this story, and her response was similar to mine (taken off MSN):
Before everybody grabbed non-agricultural residence registrations
Now it’s the opposite
Indeed, her parents made sure to get non-agricultural residence registrations for her and her brother.
And yet Mr Sun wants his child to be able to till the land. Most curious indeed.
Has anybody else out there familiar with rural China come across this kind of attitude? Or does your experience match mine?
Update: He’s still being refused an agricultural residence registration– and the plot thickens. Apparently all villages in the district are required to have 100% of rural newborns register as non-agricultural. But nobody’s being forced to take a non-agricultural residence registration. No, I don’t get it either, and nor does Mr Sun.