Where should we register our son's hukou?
Updated: 2008-03-06 10:43 (来源：英语杂志 http://www.EnglishCN.com)
Hoping to register their newborn son's "hukou" in Beijing, a migrant couple took a local police station to court. Although they knew that there was little chance they could win the lawsuit, the couple said "We just want to know how the court will rule the case."
Like other migrant families in Beijing, if the father Zhang Yong wants to give their newborn son, Shuoshuo, a legal household registration record, he only has two choices: register their son's "hukou" at either of the couple's birthplaces, or buy the baby a Beijing "hukou" with tens of thousands of RMB.
Of course, neither of the two plans satisfies Zhang Yong and his wife.
The Chinese term "hukou" is not an easy word to explain to foreigners, but it matters to the livelihood of every Chinese. A hukou can refer to the registration of a family, since every household in the nation must have a registration record. Though only a piece of paper, it gives an individual the legal right to reside in a certain place, and comes with certain social benefits, including medical treatment, social welfare, housing, education and etc.
Later, Zhang Yong found that he might have a third choice, through which they can give their son a legal certification in Beijing without paying too much money. They decided to help their son get a Beijing hukou through a lawsuit.
Where can we register our son?
Zhang Yong was born in northeastern China's Anshan city, and his wife Wang came from a small town in north China's Hebei Province. In this case, according to relevant regulations, their son can only register his hukou in either of the parents' birthplaces. But Zhang Yong couldn't accept this.
Zhang has been working in Beijing for over five years, and in 2005 the couple bought a commercial apartment in Beijing. They even planed to take their parents to Beijing so the whole family can reunite. But if their son's hukou can't be registered in Beijing, the boy has to go to other cities for school in the future.
"It's unacceptable that we work in Beijing but have to leave our child in our hometown for his education."
What if they have the boy go to schools in Beijing?
If he wants to be enrolled in a school in Beijing, the family has to pay an extra fee to the school, which is called temporary studying fees (a kind of schooling fees only for migrant children). Although the amount of the fee has been decreasing in recent years with the intervention of the Beijing municipal government, according to government rules, the fee adds up to 17,400 yuan for a kid to finish high school education.
They also need to give the school more money as sponsor fee, which is set by the school individually and is much higher the temporary studying fees.
Zhang Yong took his friend's son for an example. Each year, the boy needs to give his school an average of 10,000 yuan as sponsor fee. Zhang deduced that they should prepare over one hundred thousand yuan for their son before he enters college.
"And preschool education expense hasn't been included," said Zhang. Take a kindergarten near Zhang's home for an example, each year, they charge a migrant student over 30,000 RMB as sponsor fee.
The extra charge adds huge burden to the migrant families. But it's not the worst. After graduating from a high school, the child has to return to the place where his "hukou" was registered to take part in the college entrance exam, which is the rule.
There is only one way to help Zhang Yong solve all the problems - buying his son a Beijing hukou. Zhang said that he really thought this over before. The price is 200 thousand RMB, which is a bit less than the heavy schooling fees he has to pay in the next 12 years.
But Zhang held himself back from doing this.
In recent years, the government is working on various methods to lift limitations on household registration. Although hukou reforms differ from region to region, who can predict what will happen in the next ten years, Zhang Yong asked himself.
There is another reason why Zhang abandoned his idea of buying a hukou. He heard about China's household registration law.
One day, a friend told Zhang Yong that he could get his son a Beijing hukou according to the law, which says that if the family has a fixed residence in the city, their newborn baby is qualified for registration in Beijing.
"This is impossible!" Zhang Yong thought. The friend suggested him to visit a man named Cheng Hai, who lives in the same community with Zhang.
Let's protect our rights with "legal weapons"
Cheng Hai is a lawyer from Anhui Province. In 2007, Cheng filed a lawsuit against the public security stations in Beijing and Hefei, the provincial capital of Anhui, in order to transfer his residential record to Beijing.
Cheng Hai came to Beijing in 2003. From then on, every year, he needs to go to the local public security station in Beijing to apply for a temporary residence certificate. Things didn't turn any better even after Cheng bought his own apartment in Beijing.