【英语中国】中国铜陵的增长妙方:改革户籍制度

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所属分类:双语中国

2013-11-9 18:21

小艾摘要: Tongling, a copper-mining center since the Ming dynasty, is running low on ore. The Yangtze River city wants to turn itself into a manufacturing center, but it lacks a critical ingredient: a steady su ...
Tongling, a copper-mining center since the Ming dynasty, is running low on ore. The Yangtze River city wants to turn itself into a manufacturing center, but it lacks a critical ingredient: a steady supply of factory workers.

So it is doing what many places in China are unwilling to do. It is inviting migrants and their families to settle, giving them the same rights to education, health care and housing as locals, and even letting émigrés from China's villages retain their exemption from China's notorious one-child policy, so they can have a second child.

The approach shows signs of working. Tongling's population is growing, while overall Anhui province's is falling, and the local economy is getting a small boost. 'Farmers are leaving their land and coming to work in the city's factories,' says Chen Lei, a manager at the Tongling subsidiary of Hailiang Group, which makes copper tubes and plans to more than double its workforce of 280 in the next three years. 'We're seeing that now.'

Since 2010, this dusty city of 750,000 in eastern China has made reform of the city's residency-permit system a centerpiece of its economic strategy.

All Chinese have what's known as a hukou--a document that entitles them to live in a certain place, usually their hometown, and divides them into rural or urban residents. Social benefits derive from hukou status and vary widely. World Bank researchers estimate that China's richest provinces spend eight times as much, per person, overall as the poorest ones.

'China is like a lot of small kingdoms with different levels of welfare,' says He Fan, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. 'People try to move to better places. Hukous keep them out.'

Chinese economists say that a Communist Party conference that starts Saturday and is scheduled to release an economic blueprint for the next decade will discuss making China's hukou system more equitable. In June, China's National Development and Reform Commission--the old State Planning ministry--released a report saying China should relax hukou controls, starting in smaller cities like Tongling, but only slowly make such changes in larger ones.

More-sweeping change is opposed by major cities, whose social-welfare benefits are greater than in smaller cities like Tonglingand thus would face greater outlays for migrant families, say researchers involved in putting together the party economic plan.

Looking to replace the hukou system altogether, the Development Research Center, an influential Chinese government think tank, has urged the party leadership to create a national package of social benefits, so Chinese living standards won't depend so much on differences in localities.

Under the current system, a Beijing hukou gives students a leg up in getting into the capital's universities, which are among the best in China, and medical insurance that can help pay for treatment at some of the country's better hospitals. A rural hukou gives farmers rights to the land they farm--usually enough for a dependable, though subsistence living--and much more modest medical care than is available in cities.

The hukou system dates back to 1958 when the Communist Party wanted to make sure enough people were tilling the fields. The policy helped China avoid some of the problems of Latin America and Africa, where big cities are ringed with shantytowns. But by limiting the ability of Chinese to move their families to the cities where they work, the hukou system also made migrants wary of adopting freer-spending urban lifestyles, a trend running counter to Chinese leaders' broader goals of shifting to a consumer-led economy.

A report by the World Bank and Development Research Center estimates that shifting 10% of China's workforce out of the agricultural sector could boost China's GDP by 6.4%, with higher gains in the less-developed western and central parts of China.

For decades Anhui province, where Tongling is located, has sent migrants to Shanghai, Guangzhou and other coastal cities in search of work in China's burgeoning export businesses. Migrant labor powered China's rise to become the world's second largest economy but at a heavy personal cost for migrants. Many of them left their kids in their home villages to be raised by grandparents because they couldn't get local hukous, making it extraordinarily difficult for them to put their children in local public schools.

From 2008 to 2012, as Anhui province's population fell 2.4%, Tongling's edged up 0.4%, according to government statistics. Industrial profits rose 6% between 2010 and 2012 in the city, much slower than during the boom years before the global financial crisis, but still in the plus column while the city makes its economic transformation.

In 2005, Tongling eliminated the education surcharge of around 750 yuan ($124) per semester for each migrant child in Tongling public schools, says Zhong Heping, deputy director of Tongling's urban and rural unification office. Over the past three years, the city also made migrants eligible for public housing and the same medical insurance as locals.

Zhou Xiaocui, a 49-year-old clothing store owner, from Anqing, about 55 miles from Tongling, says the city's open door to migrants convinced her to settle there. She says she is impressed that she doesn't have to pay extra for her 13-year-old son to attend the local junior high school. 'I heard good things about Tongling,' she says. 'That's why we moved here.'

Wu Jiaxiang, a Tongling native who now lives in Beijing and writes books about Chinese politics, says the core of Tongling's reform is 'equal rights for all.'

Tongling has been known for reform since 1991, when the young mayor, Wang Yang, published an article, 'Wake Up, Tongling,' urging the town to embrace market economics and be open-minded about the changes sweeping China. It caught the attention of then-paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, Chinese media accounts say, which put Mr. Wang on a fast track to higher office.

He burnished his reformist reputation as party chief of coastal Guandong province, pressing local businesses to boost their global competitiveness, and is now a vice premier overseeing economic issues. Locals say he can be counted on to help Tongling.

The city's current mayor, Hou Ximin, was a Beijing housing official before he was dispatched to Tongling as a way to round out his resume for higher office, says Mr. Wu, the Tongling political writer.

Tongling's move to equalize benefits came after other attempts flopped. Over the past decade, the city required rural residents to give up their land in exchange for an urban hukou and a city apartment. While the city set the compensation at levels higher than elsewhere, many former farmers ran through the money and wound up unemployed. These 'lost land' farmers now congregate around housing projects playing cards and looking for tiny plots of undeveloped to plant beans.

City officials and academics studied the massive efforts of Chongqing, with a population of 30 million, to turn 10 million rural residents into urban ones, so they could become a workforce for the factories the city was wooing from China's coast. But Chongqing requires farmers to give up their land within three years in exchange for urban benefits and many balk, figuring that their land acted as a kind of insurance policy. Even if they were laid off from the factory, they could come home and farm, say farmers in rural Chongqing districts.

Tongling puts less demand on migrants. They can keep their land and still get urban benefits. That is what Ms. Zhou, the clothing store owner decided to do. 'I definitely don't want to give up my land back at home,' she says. 'I think every farmer feels the same way.'

For its part, Tongling is experimenting with new ways to convince rural residents and migrants to become urban workers. The city is teaming with a trust company to offer farmers a chance to pool their lands so the fields can be farmed more efficiently and raise higher value crops. Lease payments and dividends, Tongling planners say, could put more money in farmers' bank accounts and encourage them to leave their farms and move to cities where wages are higher.

Agence France-Presse / Getty Images在城市中生活的外来移民缺少福利。图为安徽合肥的外来务工人员。
长江流域的铜矿产业中心铜陵市希望转型为一个制造业中心,但缺乏一个关键要素:稳定的工人供给。

因此该市采取了中国许多地区不愿采取的措施,那就是邀请移民及其家人前来定居,并给予他们与本地人同等的教育、医疗和居住权利,甚至允许来自中国农村的移民保留豁免中国一胎政策的权利,这样他们依然可以生二胎。

有迹象显示这一措施取得了成效。在安徽省总体人口数量下降之际,铜陵市人口正在增长,当地经济也获得了些许提振。海亮(安徽)铜业有限公司总经理助理陈磊说,农民正在离开他们的土地,来到铜陵市的工厂工作,我们正在看到这些变化。该公司是海亮集团(Hailiang Group)旗下子公司,主要生产铜管,该公司计划未来三年让员工数量从目前的280人增加一倍多。

自2010年以来,这座尘土飞扬、有75万人口的中国东部城市已经将户籍制度改革作为其经济战略的中心部分。

所有中国人都有户口,户口赋予他们在某个地区生活(通常是他们的家乡)的权利,并把他们划分为城市和农村居民。户口情况决定了居民享受的社会福利,并且存在巨大差异。世界银行(World Bank)研究员估计,中国最富裕省份的人均社会福利支出是最贫困省份的八倍。

中国社会科学院研究员何帆说,中国各地就像许多小王国,福利水平各不相同,人们尝试移居到福利水平更高的地区,但户口成为他们的一大阻碍。

中国经济学家说,定于周六举行的中共十八届三中全会将讨论使中国户籍制度更公平的问题。今年6月份,中国国家发展和改革委员会(简称:发改委)在一份报告中说,中国应当从铜陵市这样的小城市开始放开户籍管制,但在更大型城市只缓慢推进这一改革。

据参与汇总中共经济方案的研究员说,更彻底的户籍制度改革受到大城市的反对,它们的社会福利更高,因此移民家庭将加重它们的福利支出负担。

具影响力的中国政府智库国务院发展研究中心已敦促中共领导层制定一个全国性的社会福利一揽子方案,完全替换掉户籍制度,这样中国人的生活水平就不会在那么大程度上取决于不同的所在地了。

根据现行制度,北京户口让学生在进入北京的大学时占有优势,而中国很多最好的大学都位于北京。此外,北京户口还让北京居民得以享受在中国一些较好医院就诊的医疗保险。农村户口让农民有权耕种他们的土地,这通常可以为农民带来一个基本有保障的生活,但享有的医疗保障则远不及城市户口。

户口制度源自1958年,当时中共希望确保有足够的人耕种土地。这项政策帮助中国避免了拉美和非洲出现的一些问题,即大城市中散落的贫民窟。但由于户口制度限制了中国国人举家迁移至他们工作城市的能力,该制度让生活在大城市的移民不愿更自由的消费,而这种趋势与中国领导人将中国转变为消费主导型经济的更大目标背道而驰。

世界银行和国务院发展研究中心联合发布的一份报告估计,将中国10%的农业人口转变为城镇居民可能会给中国国内生产总值(GDP)带来6.4%的提振作用,欠发达的中国中西部地区受到的提振会更大。

数十年来,铜陵市所在的安徽省向上海和广州等沿海城市输送了大量移民,他们在中国增长迅速的出口行业寻找工作。移民工人推动中国崛起为全球第二大经济体,但他们也付出了沉重的个人代价。他们当中许多人都将孩子留在了家乡,让父母代为照看,因为他们无法获得当地户口,难以让孩子进入当地公立学校读书。

据政府数据显示,2008年至2012年期间,安徽省人口数量下降了2.4%,而铜陵市人口小幅增长0.4%。2010年至2012年期间该市工业利润增长了6%,远低于全球金融危机前繁荣时期的增速,但在该市经济转型之际仍实现了正增长。

铜陵市城乡一体化工作办公室副主任钟和平说,2005年,铜陵市已取消公立学校移民子弟每人每学期约人民币750元的赞助费。过去三年,该市还让移民可以享受到公共住房政策,并与本地人享有同等的医疗保险。

现年49岁的服装店店主周小翠说,铜陵市向移民敞开大门的政策吸引她来此定居。她来自距离铜陵市约88公里的安庆。她说,最打动她的是她13岁的儿子读本地初中不用交赞助费。她说:我听说铜陵这里对外来人口不错,所以我们就搬过来了。

吴稼祥,铜陵人,现居北京,中国政治类书籍作家。他说,铜陵改革的核心命题是平权。

1991年,时任铜陵市长的汪洋发表了一篇题为《醒来吧,铜陵》的文章,从那时开始,铜陵市就以改革而闻名于世。在这篇文章中,汪洋敦促铜陵发展市场经济,以开放性的思维应对整个中国所发生的变化。根据中国媒体的纪录,这篇文章引起了当时中国最高领导人邓小平的注意,汪洋的仕途也由此踏上快速上升的轨道。

在担任广东省委书记期间,汪洋通过鼓励当地企业加强国际竞争力而进一步巩固了他作为改革派的声誉。汪洋目前担任主管经济问题的国务院副总理。铜陵的当地人说,可以指望汪洋帮助铜陵。

现任的铜陵市市长是原在北京担任住房建设官员的侯淅珉。吴稼祥说,他被派往铜陵担任市长是为下一步的晋升积攒资历。

在让居民平等享有福利之前,铜陵采取的其他措施曾遭遇失败。在过去的10年里,铜陵市出台了让农村人口放弃土地以换取城市户口和住宅的政策。虽然铜陵市制定的补偿比其他地方更高,但许多农民在用光了补偿款之后就陷入失业的困境。如今,这些失去土地的农民聚集在住宅项目周围,一边打牌,一边寻找没有被开发的可以种些豆子的地方。

铜陵市官员和学者们把重庆市的大规模户籍制度改革作为研究的样本。重庆市拥有3,000万人口,在吸引沿海地区企业工人到重庆就业的同时,重庆市还计划让1,000万农民进城,把这些农村人口转变成工厂工人。但根据重庆市的要求,农民必须在三年内放弃自己的土地以换取城市福利,许多农民不愿这么做,在这些农民眼中,土地就像一张保险单。重庆郊区农村的农民们说,即使被工厂解雇了,他们仍可以回家种地。

铜陵则没有给移民设定那么多条件。铜陵农民在获得城市福利的同时还可以保有土地。这也正是周小翠的决定,这个服装店店主说:我肯定不想放弃家里的土地,每个农民应该都是这么想的。

铜陵也在尝试用新的方法吸引农村和外来人口进城当工人。铜陵正与一家信托公司合作,使农民有机会将土地集中起来,以便提高耕作效率并种植价值更高的作物。铜陵的政策规划者们说,土地的租金和红利会让农民的银行帐户里面有更多的钱,鼓励他们离开土地,到工资水平更高的城市落户安家。

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