Posted by: 1of10boyz | February 19, 2013

Hukou – the most important control

I knew little about hukou (户口)before coming here. It is the ultimate control of the Chinese government. It is not new but has been around for centuries. It is the means for accounting for every Chinese person in China. On the surface that doesn’t sound so bad, but it means much more than accounting for everyone. It means segregation, discrimination, and corruption.

You see, hukou is the ticket out. Hukou determines where you can go to school, where you can ‘officially’ live, where you can get medical care, if you get subsidies and rent controlled housing, and where your children will grow-up. If your hukou is rural you will never be able to officially live in the city, you will forced to be a peasant tied to the land. It means you will never be “city” if you were “country” and that is a fact for 99.9% of everyone born country. That lucky 1/10th of a percent get out of the country because they are exceptional (think Stanford, Oxford, Harvard, MIT, and/or Cambridge), they marry into (women only), or they “buy” their way into it.

I think that the hukou is the ultimate tool of tyranny and control. It’s the last remnant of the dynasty periods. It is the reason that 95% of the deaths from the Great Leap Forward occurred in the country instead of an equal distribution. It also accounts for the unequal distribution of where the boys and men are. It was unintended accident that there are more men in this country, that little turn of events has been exacerbated by the one-child policy and the desire to have a son to continue to manage the farm.

I am once again happy and grateful that the United States of America allows me to live where ever I want to. If I want to live in New York City, put my stuff in my car and I move to the city. If I want to live in LA and have the beach and the Santa Anna winds I could move there. If I want to live in Wyoming I can hitch my wagon and move there too. I can be a citizen of New York, California, Wyoming or any State in the USA. All it takes is about 20 bucks for a new driver’s license, a rental contract, and a change to my voter’s ID for me to get the equivalent of a new hukou.

I think that once the Chinese government removes this requirement for its people that will mark the beginning of a new era in China. The annual migrations of October 1st and Chinese New Year will still happen when the hukou is no longer required it will just be smaller.

I would recommend some real writers and their recent musings about hokou.

Great Migration

Wiki Hukou

Hukou Corruption

Urbanization Challenge


Hukou Reform




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