May 16, 2010

Kunming Proposes Residence Permits Requirement to Rent Domicile or Seek Employment, Foreigners Are Exempt

I don't know which made people angrier: more bureaucracy or that foreigners (in addition to Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan residents, ironically) are exempt.

Translation: 昆明拟禁止无居住证者租房找工作 外国人除外

Outsiders who visit Kunming from now on, if lacking residence permits, will no longer be able to work or find apartments.

This regulation came from the Residence Permit Regulations in Kunming (Draft) (hereinafter referred to as Draft), provided for public review on April 17. Although one week of review period has already ended, the debate it sparked continues.

The Draft clearly states: "No Danwei should use or hire migrant people who do not possess migrant permits. When recruiting or hiring the migrant population, Danwei should request residence permits, Proof of Marriage and Procreation Status as well as other valid documents for registration." In case of violations, the law enforcement agencies can assess fines between 50 and 5000 yuan.

Lawyer Zhang Honglei (张宏雷) believes that employment is a right granted by the constitution to its citizens, and should not be conditional upon "residence permits." At the national level, the Constitution allows citizens freedom to live and relocate; the Labor Law gives laborers right to equal employment and choice of occupation; and the Employment Promotion Law asks governments to create an environment without discrimination. Migrant farmers who enter cities to find jobs should have the same labor rights as city dwellers. Discrimination against these migrant workers are forbidden.

"Our national policies forbid the Draft from depriving any Chinese citizen of his/her right to live and work in Kunming under pretexts like residential permits. As long as they carry Resident Identity Cards and follow Kunming regulations, non-locals are protected by law." argued Zhang Honglei, "The constraints set forth in the Draft hurt non-locals' legitimate interests and contradicts the spirit of the Constitution."

Furthermore, the Draft states: "Foreigners, stateless persons, people from Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, Taiwan residents are exempt." This part is also being questioned. "Non-locals Chinese citizens not as good as foreigners?" Zhang Honglei asked: "Why must non-local Chinese citizens apply for residential permits, while foreigners don't?"

In the August 2009 draft of Residence Permit Regulations in Kunming which sought public opinion, Article 18 delineated the requirements for a Kunming long-time resident hukou: "Having lawful residence, employment or steady income; criminal record showing no detention or punishment in the last 2 years and no convicted crimes in the last 5 years; possession of residence permit for more than 5 years and timely endorsement." Many outsiders saw hope in Article 18.

However, the April 17th Draft not only removed this provision, it also added more: To apply for residence permit, one must first obtain the 'Kunming temporary residence permit''; additionally the applicant must have lived in Kunming for more than one year, own a permanent residence and have a stable job. When applying, the applicant shall provide proof from their landlord and work. Compared to the August 2009 version which allowed the application process to begin 3 days after arrival in Kunming, the bar is now set much higher.

An government employee responsible for migrant population management, a division inside the Kunming Public Security Bureau, explained that Article 18 was removed because current policies are more favorable, and re-writing the law is unnecessary. He told the China Youth Daily reporter that, earlier this year, Kunming issued "Additional comments to further improve the household registration system." Purchase and ownership of city apartments more than 120 square meter in area (or county apartments more than 90 square meter in area) is no longer one of the criteria. Instead, as long as the apartment area exceeds 22.72 square meter and is actually where the applicant resides, he/she can apply for hukou.

According to the Draft, newcomers have to have the temporary residence permit for more than a year before they become eligible for preferential policies such as "free immunization for children," "education for accompanying children," "bus fare discount," etc. The government official explained to the reporter that the one year restriction is set because many visits to Kunming are short term. Absence of such a time limit makes it unfair to those who stay longer and actually contribute to the city. Also, people constantly coming and leaving increases the number of legal procedures, making management difficult.

Pu Yuxi (普雨西) from Lincang, Yunnan could not understand: "people are entitled to public career services, basic immunization, and family planning technical services by national law, why do they need to show residence permit now?"

Some legal personnel believe that the Draft tacks on extra restrictions which went against Administrative Licensing Law (ALL) and Resident Identity Card Law. ALL prohibits local, provincial, autonomous region or direct municipality governments from setting additional requirements and demands for licensing and qualification of entities that fall under the central government's jurisdiction. Yet, the Draft clearly violates the ALL, because it restricts and deprives non-Kunming Chinese citizens of their right to legally live, work in the city,

Lu Dong (陆东) from Sichuan, who works in the medical equipment business in Kunming said: "Compared to the August 2009 version, the current Draft greatly reduces government services. The previous version's emphasis on management and services made us expectant. In contrast, the Draft increased the bureaucracy while limiting services. They legalize their own laziness through additional certification and permits."

Some of the most recommended comments:
2010-05-08 06:45:49 sina netizen 老百姓
This draft from Kunming violates the Constitution and should be revoked immediately. What a joke they are discriminating against their fellow citizens. Their administration is an embarrassment.

2010-05-08 06:56:50 sina netizen Convert
Foreigners are exempt? Ridiculous. Non-citizens enjoy the basic rights that citizens are not privileged to.

2010-05-08 10:59:51 Zibo, Shandong kainuo
Foreigners are exempt? What do you mean? We should avoid being Chinese in the next life?

2010-05-08 13:23:49 sina netizen kamlong
Second class citizens in my own country! Speechless! I love my country but my country doesn't love me!

2010-05-08 07:59:59 Dongguan, Guangdong y135383
How many permits do we need to survive in China?

2010-05-08 18:21:36 Nanning, Guangxi lsi12389
A "Chinese and dogs cannot enter sign" would have been enough. Why go through all that trouble to write up a legal document?

2010-05-08 19:53:04 sina netizen 科学发展观
You know why Yunnan has drought? The dragon king who is in charge of wind and rain doesn't have his Kunming resident permit!

2010-05-08 07:55:58 Mobile phone user
Biting the hand that feeds you. No wonder foreigners don't think much of us. We even discriminate against ourselves

To be fair, some netizens supported Kunming's plan. But their comments were booed. Here is one such comment:
2010-05-08 20:41:58 Shandong shenyushu 1
Don't quote out of the context. The regulation says that to find jobs in Kunming requires "temporary resident permit." And after a year one can apply for "resident permit." This is very useful to management and safety. Citizens have the freedom to choose where they live, and what job they want, but the application doesn't exactly constitute restriction. The reporter is intentionally quoting out of context.

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