Whether a person who is wanted by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) and/or for whom an arrest warrant has been issued would be issued a new household registration (hukou ) in their absence by the PSB (August 2004) [CHN42786.E]

A professor of social science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, whose area of specialization includes internal migration and the household registration system (hukou), provided the following information in 25 August 2004 correspondence on whether a person wanted by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) would be issued a new hukou:

In China, one's hukou status is registered at birth. Later, people can change their hukou status from rural to urban, from one city to another. It is very rare that the government cancels a citizen's hukou status because of wrongdoings. In the case presented here, even if someone is wanted by the Public Security Bureau, his/her hukou still exists. Why does s/he need to be issued a new hukou? There is no reason for this. Of course, the PSB may use one's hukou information to track the wanted person (namely, to closely monitor the place where the person is registered).
According to China's hukou regulations, if one is moving out of China and plans to reside there [outside China] for over half [sic] year, s/he is supposed to cancel the hukou registration before departure (this is simply for the purpose of population accounting). As long as one still holds Chinese citizenship, s/he can easily reactivate the hukou in the original place after returning.
So my quick answers to your questions: if someone is hiding in China and wanted by the PBS, he DOES NOT need a new hukou; if one is residing outside China (for a longer term), he is not supposed to hold hukou registration in China. So there is no such a question whether people will be issued a new hukou in their absence.

Similarly, a professor of geography at the University of Washington, whose area of specialization includes the hukou system in China, stated in 25 August 2004 correspondence that a person in China is generally not issued a new hukou, but that there could be exceptions to this rule.

Although attempts to obtain current information from the Embassy of Canada in Beijing and the Embassy of China in Ottawa were unsuccessful within the time constraints, an official at the Embassy of Canada in Beijing stated the following on renewing a hukou in 11 April 2002 correspondence:

A hukou does not expire so there is no need for it to be renewed. There are occasions when a hukou required amending, i.e.: if the person moves, if there is an addition to the family, if the person gets married, etc. The information we have been able to obtain is that amendments to the hukou are made by the local government, [at the] local police station, [which is] responsible for issuing and maintaining the hukou.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Embassy of Canada, Beijing. 11 April 2002. Correspondence with official.

Professor of geography, University of Washington, Seattle. 25 August 2004. Correspondence sent to the Research Directorate.

Professor of social science, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. 25 August 2004. Correspondence sent to the Research Directorate.

Additional Sources Consulted

One oral source did not provide information on the requested subject.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International, Asia Times, BBC, China Internet Information Centre, Dialog, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights in China, US Department of State.