Oct 18, 2019 07:17 PM

Chart of the Day: Beijing Points System Mints 6,007 New Residents

Out-of-towners looking to land a coveted Beijing residence permit might think of taking up jobs in banks, internet firms or state-owned enterprises.

That’s one of the main messages in the second year of a new program allowing non-Beijing residents to apply for residency in the Chinese capital using a system that awards points for things like one’s education level, stable living situation and how many years they’ve paid local taxes.


Unlike most developed countries where residency is largely automatic for anyone who lives in a city, such rights in China are far more difficult to obtain — especially in the largest cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen. People automatically receive residency, known locally as “hukou,” for the place where they were born. They are free to move anywhere they want after that, but must go through a complex process to change their official residency.

Such residency is important because it provides preferential access to things like public services and education, and even to the right to buy a home in some of the largest cities.

Beijing first rolled out its points-based residency application system in 2017, and made its first awards last year. This year 6,007 people made the cut, or about 5% of the more than 100,000 people who applied, according to data released this week by the Beijing Municipal Human Resources and Social Security Bureau. Of those, the oldest person was 60, while the youngest was 32. The numbers are still a tiny fraction of Beijing’s population of nearly 22 million, only about 60% of whom have official residency.

The point system favors younger people with professional experience, with 4,758 successful applicants — or nearly 80% of the total — born in the 1970s. Most of the rest were born in the 1980s, and nobody from the 1990s won a coveted permit through the points system. Among sectors, people working at banks, internet companies and big state-owned enterprises were most heavily represented.

One of this year’s winners was Zhao Xiaobo, a native of Central China’s Hunan province in his early 40s who requested his real name not be used to protect his privacy. Zhao, who has a master’s degree, has lived in Beijing for 12 years but was contemplating moving to another city with less stringent requirements due his previous inability to get the official residence permit.

“In Beijing, having a residency permit is a major factor in determining how long you can stay and whether you might want to change to another place,” he said.


Contact reporter Yang Ge (; twitter: @youngchinabiz)

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