China will give household registration permits to its unregistered citizens, the government said on Wednesday, opening access to basic rights such as schooling and healthcare for about 13 million people, Reuters reports. Household registration – or “hukou” – is required if a person wishes to marry, open a bank account, take out medical insurance and get access to basic education.
But many Chinese have been locked out of the system because their births flouted China’s strict one-child policy, or they were orphans or homeless. The ruling Chinese Communist Party announced in October it was reforming the family planning policy to allow couples to have two children after decades of the one-child policy, a move aimed at alleviating demographic strains on the economy.
The state news agency Xinhua put the number of unregistered at around 13 million or one percent of the population. “It is a basic legal right for Chinese citizens to lawfully register for hukou. It’s also a premise for citizens to participate in social affairs, enjoy rights and fulfil duties,” state television CCTV reported, citing a statement released after a government meeting on reform.
Registration should take place irrespective of family planning and other policy limits, the statement said.