(Yicai Global) May 21 -- The government of China's northern municipality of Tianjin received around 300,000 applications for 'hukous' (the country's household registration record) on a single day following its decision to relax requirements in an effort to attract more talented professionals to the city.
The rule changes, which are considered the lowest-ever household registration threshold among China's municipalities, came into effect on May 16. 'Hukou registration in Tianjin' subsequently became one of the hottest search terms on the internet.
Tianjin's local household registration system now accepts bachelor and master's degree-holders up to the age of 40 and 45, respectively, while doctorate holders of any age can also register directly.
China's hukou system allows holders more rights and advantages in employment, education, social security, pension, house purchases and other legal interests. They are highly sought-after in the country's more well-off first and second-tier cities and rules for applying are typically very strict especially in the capital Beijing.
Demand for hukous in Tianjin is also high as the municipality is a leading second-tier city and was named by Yicai Global a New Tier One city in its recent 2018 China City Business Appeal Index. It also boasts a higher college enrollment rate than other second-tier cities. The city's close proximity to Beijing also makes it a popular choice for commuters as well as those unable to gain registrations in the capital. Before the relaxation plan, many Beijing-based workers would pay tens of thousands of yuan through agents to gain hukous in Tianjin.
Statistics show that some 300,000 people downloaded the Tianjin Public Security app to apply for the hukou in the first 24 hours, while there were also reports of people driving overnight to take part. Tickets for high-speed trains from Beijing have sold out for the coming days.
With demand far outstripping expectations, the municipal government has already brought out a second policy interpretation to raise the threshold, which prohibits those employed in other provinces or municipalities from applying. This change will rule out a large number of 'Beijing drifters' from applying. An official emphasized that the relaxation is to attract talents to boost the city's industrial and economic development, rather than simply providing household registration for those who work in other places.
Tianjin's policy drive to attract talented professionals has had a knock-on effect on the city's real estate sector. Property agents in the city's Wuqing district, seen as a junction between Tianjin, Beijing and neighboring Hebei province, reported surging numbers of Beijing-based inquiries about house purchases.
Editor: William Clegg