Feb 13, 2015 06:20 PM

State Firms Yank Job Offers to Students from Outside Beijing

(Beijing) – Recent university graduates who thought they had coveted positions with big state-owned companies in Beijing will have to restart their job hunts after the central government cut the number of out-of-towners the firms could hire as part of population-control efforts in the overcrowded capital.

One postgraduate from the northern province of Hebei told Caixin that he has been told by his new employer, a large company controlled by the central government, that it had to rescind its offer because the central government cut the number of people for whom it could get a Beijing hukou, or household registration.

"I planned to come back to work happily as a Beijing resident after the Spring Festival, but now I'm unemployed after graduation," said the man, who completed his degree at a university in the capital in January.

State-owned firms in the country's big cities mostly hire people with a local hukou – a key document that entitles the holder to a range of services, from health care and education to borrowing public bicycles – but each year they are allowed to hire graduates from outside the city who then get the household registration document.

It is not clear exactly how many college graduates have lost their job offers as a result of quota change, but The Beijing News reports that about 1,000 students have formed a social media chat room devoted to discussing the matter.

The recent Hebei graduate said several big state-backed firms and institutions, including the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China Unicom, Construction Bank of China and universities under the Ministry of Education, have had their hukou quotas slashed.

Aviation Industry Corp. of China, which is controlled by the central government, said in an online notice on February 9 that the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security told it to hire fewer out-of-towners than last year.

"To carry forward the instructions from Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang and other central government leaders for strict control of Beijing's population, the human resources ministry has cut the 2015 hukou quota for students to come to work in Beijing," the company said on its website. "Accordingly, all companies and institutions affiliated with the central government have had their quotas cut by 17 percent."

The ministry did not respond to requests for comment.

An official at Beihang University, formerly known as Beijing Institute of Aeronautics, said a number of graduates had complained that job offers were rescinded.

The household registration papers are highly desired. In May 2014, two college graduates were arrested on charges of "trading in official documents" because they had each paid 120,000 yuan to middlemen for help getting hukou.

Xi, the general secretary of the ruling Communist Party, has been pushing for reform of the hukou system, but China's big cities – which are flush with job opportunities and public services – have been allowed to use it as a population control measure.

The total number of hukou given to college graduates, civil servants and retired servicemen to live in the capital was halved from 2005 to last year, when it stood at 10,000, the Beijing Youth Daily has reported.

The further tightening this year has caught many recent college graduates unprepared because they usually start looking for their first jobs in September and October.

"If they'd rolled out the new policy back in August, we'd have had nothing to complain about, but simply started looking for a new job back then," the Hebei student said. "But it's hard for us to accept such a sudden change without any warning."

(Rewritten by Li Rongde)

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