Since the People's Republic of China Household Registration Rule in 1958, the institution of household registration has seriously restricted individuals' freedom of migration. It polarizes people living in urban areas and those in rural areas in terms of social status and economic welfare as well, and, thus, hinders economic and social development. On 16th March, 2001, the government of Huzhou city issued a new household registration regulation for urban Huzhou, eliminating the restrictions of the old regulation and ensuring residents' freedom of migration.
What is innovative about the new househould registration regulation in Huzhou is that it reduces the requirements for changing registration to their minimum. According to the new regulation, as long as an individual demonstrates that he/she has legal and stable accommodation, long-term job or resources for leading a life, or relatives to depend on, he/she can apply for household registration in urban Huzhou, whether or not he/she is a peasant or migration worker and without regard to the location of his/her previous household registration. With the new household registration, one can enjoy the social security benefits of an urban resident.
The procedure for changing household registration has also been reformed. Rather than having to get approval from various offices to change household registration, under the new rules an applicant needs only to inform those bureaucracies. The new regulation thus eliminates the barrier that separates urban areas from rural areas. It eliminates the difference in social status between people in urban areas and those in rural areas. Huzhou is among the first city governments to take the initiative.
Huzhou's new household registration rules ensure the equal status among city inhabitants and peasants. It solves the problem of injustice in employment, social security benefits, and children's access to education that are attached to household registration. For instance, after easily changing their household registration, those students who study in urban schools, but whose household registration used to be somewhere else, do not have to give extra fees to the schools anymore. Secondly, it facilitate the mobility of labor, especially redundant workers in the countryside, which promotes economic growth and urbanization. According to incomplete statistics, by the end of 2003 more than 86,600 people had changed their household registration in Huzhou city, making the proportion of urban inhabitants in the city 42.5%, which is 4.3% more that of 2000. Thirdly, it helps absorb human capital for the city. The new regulation has attracted more than 3,600 highly qualified professionals. Fourthly, it helps the police improve their image. It also reduces management costs and helps solve a number of management problems.