Illustrations: Peter C. Espina/GT
With graduation season approaching, many college graduates still hesitate about their next move. For many, a job providing a Beijing hukou, which offers a residence permit and a number of social benefits in Beijing, is a very good choice.
As the Beijing government tries to limit the city's booming population expansion and reduce the hukou quota, many consider themselves very lucky to find a job with a Beijing hukou. Graduates who find their dream job which also offers a hukou are undoubtedly blessed. But what will you do if you have to choose between a job with a Beijing hukou and a job that you like?
The hukou, a household registration system, gives Chinese citizens access to social service such as public schooling and healthcare based on where the hukou is linked to, which makes it the golden key to settle down in big cities like Beijing. Life can become very inconvenient for people working in Beijing without a local hukou.
For example, if non-hukou-holders want to buy an apartment in Beijing, they are required to pay income taxes and social insurance fees for at least 60 consecutive months. This requirement is waived for people with the hukou, who can buy an apartment in Beijing with much fewer restrictions. Their children can enroll in public schools while children of migrant workers without hukou face many difficulties in getting into local schools.
The inconvenience of living in Beijing without hukou haunts many people's daily life and makes them feel they are secondary-class citizens who do not belong to the city.
I will graduate in July and almost every friend of mine knows how many benefits lie hidden behind a single piece of residence paper. When the job that offers Beijing hukou and the job that you like are not the same, how does one choose?
It is not wise to give up a job which you like for another with a Beijing hukou. Choosing the job you want to dedicate yourself to is the first step in building one's career dream. The feeling of satisfaction, the sense of accomplishment as well as the personal fulfillment realized by the job you like could never be achieved by attaining a piece of residence paper. The wasted time, energy and talent will never be recovered if you choose an unsuitable job just for a hukou.
However, the inconvenience in daily life for non-hukou holders is like a huge mountain blocking one's career dreams. We cannot turn a blind eye to the difficulties we might encounter if we choose the job we like at the cost of a local hukou. It is a dilemma every new graduate must make, including me.
A friend of mine who graduated from Peking University will leave Beijing this month and return to her hometown because she failed to get a Beijing hukou. "I can't buy welfare apartments at a lower price, and my child won't get proper education. I don't belong here," she said. To some extent, the hukou system is causing an outflow of talent.
However, it appears that things are changing. In 2016, the Beijing government introduced a new residential permit system. Those that obtain a permit will be entitled to many of the benefits previously reserved for hukou-holders, which is a great step toward solving this issue. Recent experiments at reform in Xiongan New Area, which will conduct a new type of household registration policy during its construction, can provide insight on future hukou reform.
I hope continuing hukou reform in Beijing can help future graduates break free of this employment dilemma so that they will no longer have to choose between a job which they like and a job which offers Beijing hukou.
The author is a graduate from the China Foreign Affairs University. firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us on Twitter @GTopinion