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China's household registration system, known as the hukou, divides people into two categories -- urban residents and rural residents. With huge numbers of farmers migrating to work in cities, this structure has presented them with a number of problems. Chongqing Municipality has now announced that it will grant urban residency to more than three million migrant workers. Our reporter Xu Zhaoqun went there to discover how they will make it happen.
Xiao Yang has been working in Chongqing for 12 years. Now, as the only chef at a hot pot restaurant, he has a stable income, and has bought a small flat. He looks no different than any other urban resident.
But he never felt like he belonged to the city until several days ago, when his application for urban residency was approved.
Chongqing urban resident Xiao Yang said, "My daughter's education is a big problem for my family. Without a hukou in the city, she can't go to school, unless we pay much more than others."
According to the latest hukou reform policy, Xiao Yang and his family will now enjoy the same treatment in medical services, pensions, children's education, housing, and employment. With these five rights, they are treated equally as urban residents.
Xiao Yang said, "I came here when I was eighteen. My hard work has finally paid off."
Chongqing plans to transfer hukous for 10 million migrant workers in 10 years. More than three million of them will be the first to become urban residents in the next year or two. Ten-thousand applications have been approved so far.
Mr. Zhang, police inspector of Chongqing Nanjimen Community, said, "We began to accept applications on August 1st. The forms and explanations are all in this bag. To apply is really not a difficult job for migrant workers."
But the simple forms have meant a huge workload for dozens of government departments over the past few months. When it was launched, the policy was already in its forty-second edition.
Jiang Wei is a farmer from the suburbs, with a job in the city. He has heard the news, but doesn't know what to do next.
Chongqing rurl resident Jiang Wei said, "Young people like me all want to stay in the city. If the government has a good policy, I think I will try."
More than two-thirds of Chongqing's 33 million inhabitants are farmers. 8 million of these farmers have become migrant workers.