China vows to address needs of the poor | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 06, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, March 06, 2010

China vows to address needs of the poor

Chinese President Hu Jintao (Top/R) applauds as Premier Wen Jiabao delivers his speech during the opening session of the National People's Congress inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday. Photo: AFP

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao vowed yesterday to ease rules denying public welfare services to millions of migrant workers as he pledged to meet the social security needs of the nation's huge poor underclass.
"We will move faster to improve the social security system for both urban and rural residents," Wen said in his "state of the nation" address opening the annual session of parliament.
The National People's Congress convened with concern mounting over a huge wealth gap and social stability in a country that sees thousands of protests every year -- often violent -- by those who have missed out on China's boom.
"We will move faster to build a better social safety net to provide basic security to people and free them from worries," Wen told the 3,000 delegates to the National People's Congress.
"We will not only make the pie of social wealth bigger by developing the economy but also distribute it well on the basis of a rational income distribution system," he added.
Wen pledged to reform an increasingly unpopular household registration, or "hukou", system under which each citizen's residency status is tied strictly to their hometown.
The system has come under fire for denying the country's 230 million migrant workers access to the government's social safety net once they leave their hometowns for work in China's cities and coastal economic hubs.
"We will carry out reform of the household registration system and relax requirements for household registration in towns and small and medium-sized cities," he said.
The government recently announced its intent to reform the system but mention of the issue in Wen's annual "government work report" officially elevates it to the level of a national priority.

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