China's hukou policy changes to enable easier flow of people, not benefit property speculators: Top economic planner

China has made steady progress in urbanisation, as the ranks of permanent urban residents stood at 831 million at the end of 2018.
China has made steady progress in urbanisation, as the ranks of permanent urban residents stood at 831 million at the end of 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - China's efforts to reduce the barriers for hukou - or household registration - will encourage the free flow of people in the country, and should not be construed as attempts to ease curbs on the real estate sector, the country's top economic regulator said.

Mr Chen Yajun, an official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said on Monday (May 6) that no matter how the household registration system is reformed, the principle that "houses are for living in, not for speculation" must be adhered to.

"The bottom line is to ensure the stable and healthy development of the real estate industry and we will work hard to resolutely prevent speculators from getting involved in the process," Mr Chen said.

His comments came after the central authorities announced a string of key measures on Sunday to further integrate the country's rural and urban areas, and encourage the transfer of people and resources across the entire nation. Under the plan, China will relax restrictions on new migrants to second and third-tier cities, as it plans to gradually remove limits on hukou registration in cities by 2022.

Professor Cai Jiming, a political and economics expert at Tsinghua University, said relaxing the hukou policy will promote the cross-region flow of labour, boost social productivity and increase the income and spending of rural residents.

"But the move is never meant to allow the real estate sector to experience fluctuations. Instead, only when housing prices stand at a reasonable level can migrant workers really settle in in cities," Prof Cai said.

China has made steady progress in urbanisation, as the ranks of permanent urban residents stood at 831 million at the end of 2018, up 17.9 million from the previous year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

 
 

Last month, the NDRC said it plans to increase the urbanisation rate by at least 1 percentage point by the end of this year.

On Monday, the NDRC also highlighted that more efforts will be made to ensure that migrant workers benefit from the new policy.

"Migrant workers who have been working and living in cities for a long time with families are the focus group," Mr Chen noted.