Protection or discrimination? Beijing’s new property prices curbing policy divide residents

 

Protection or discrimination? Beijing’s new property
prices curbing policy divide residents

Posted on 18 February 2011 by Jing Gao | Comments 评论 (9)

Beijing’s prohibitively high real estate prices have plagued the city’s
dwellers for years. Wealthy speculators who buy several pieces of real estate
for investment purpose are a major reason why the prices can’t cease soaring,
which takes heavy toll on less well-off purchasers. Earlier this week, Beijing
announced a new set of rules to thwart speculation with a heavy hand.
Among them, “Beijing registered families that own one home can only buy one
more, and those who have already owned two homes will not be allowed to buy any
more. Non-Beijing registered families with no residence permit or not paying
social security or income tax in the past 5 years will also be banned from the
real estate market.”

A Temporary Residence Permit issued by Beijing’s Public
Security Bureau

Shi Shusi, commentator at Caijing Magazine, questioned validity and
legitimacy of the policy in Caijing’s official Sina
microblog
, “If you purely and utterly detest high property prices, you may
savor the long-lost joy (from the policy). But sadly, the method by which to
achieve the joy is discrimination,
which is even more intolerable. Among the 17 million people living in Beijing, 5
million come from elsewhere who have no family register
(in Beijing). Most of them are not speculators. Rather, they are constructors
and contributors. But do they deserve discrimination for lack of
hukou?”

Most commenters side with Shi Shusi, the blogger, and adamantly denounce the
policy for treating residents differently based on family register. However,
some seemingly local Beijingers, namely those who were either born as a Beijing
registered resident or have come to Beijing for many years and “naturalized”
defend the policy that prioritizes Beijingers and blame newcomers of
enchroaching upon their resources and land. It somehow evolved into a debate
between Beijingers and non-Beijing residents.

Family register, or hukou, is a system to control flow of population
by implementing policies, for example, those regarding social security, health
care and education opportunities, that favor “registered resident” from
non-registered resident, or sometimes abruptly referred to as “outsiders.” As
Beijing and Shanghai are the two most ideal places for migrant workers
and have seen an explosion of population since China’s economic reform, a
hukou is extremely hard to come by in these two cities. Until you get
one, you are always a “temporary resident.”

Some of the routes to obtaining one include, becoming a public servant or an
employee of a state-owned enterprise and investing several hundreds of thousands
of yuan. People joked that obtaining hukou in Shanghai and Beijing is
even harder than getting a green card in the U.S., in the sense that you only
need to be married to a U.S. citizen for two years to be eligible for a green
card, but you have to stay married to a Beijing-hukou holder above the age of 45
for ten years to get Beijing hukou, whereas being a spouse of a
Shanghai-hukou holder never guarantees you one, no matter for how
long.

 

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