Chinese Hukou

by on Apr.13, 2009, under Misc

Please note: some social and political changes happened during the passed 10 years. ( Lizhen 19/03/2019)

What’s Hukou? According to its meaning, it also means “household registration” or “registered address”.
In China, normal people (not including the army) possibly can have 3 kinds of ID certificates: ID card, passport and family book. What’s the difference and relationship among them?

First, for Chinese the most useful certificate is the ID card. Not all Chinese people have passports, only a small part of them need the passports — this is not too bad.  

Second, the address on the ID card isn’t always the same with the address on your family book. The address on your family book is more powerful. The address is very important for Chinese, it not only shows where you are living, but also shows “where did you come from”, which means in a word if you are a city citizen or a countryside resident. What’s the difference between a city citizen and a countryside resident? Let’s make two examples: first, in China 4 farmers’ vote tickets equal to one city citizen’s vote, which was even 8:1 before 2005; the other example is, let’s suppose one farmer and one city citizen died in a same traffic accident, neither of them has health insurance, there will be a big difference on the compensation which the two victims families will get. The farmer will get half of the city citizen’s compensation or even less. I mentioned earlier that the address on your family book also means “where did you come from”, my meaning is, the address determines whether you come from a higher or lower social level.

The Chinese government is declaring that Chinese have equal rights and equal duties, that’s not true. On many issues the Chinese government still hasn’t paid attention or made effort to keep it equal, or I doubt it simply doesn’t care, such as the farmer’s land ownership right, poor families’ kids’ education right or the protection on women.

Just have a look at the Hukou system, the government is still sticking to divide the whole population into two parts according to their registered address. Then there come the differences on social insurance, social aid, education quality, but there are many more differences — as everybody knows in China the policies are more practical and powerful than its little assistant, so-called “Law”. 


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