Cancellation of "household registration" belonging to Chinese who emigrate;reinstating of the "household registration" of an emigre returning to China [CHN4015]

No specific information is currently available on this subject among the sources regularly consulted by the IRBDC. However, please find attached excerpts from two publications which explain how the "household registration" system works. These publications are: "Deviance, Modernization, Rations, and Household Registers in Urban China" by Lynn T. White (pp. 151-169) and Whyte and Parish's Urban Life in Contemporary China (pp. 16-26).

For further information, the IRBDC contacted two noted Canadian Sinologists. According to Professor Jan Walls of Simon Fraser University, the fact of a person's emigration would be entered on the household file and the file would be kept in the local office of the Public Security Bureau (PSB). The file is not destroyed or cancelled. Upon return to the country, the person would report to a neighbourhood committee, a work unit and most likely the PSB as well. This would insure that the household registration was restored in the place of residence of the returning emigre.

According to Professor Hugh Johnson of the University of British Columbia, who has previously carried out primary research with the use of the household registration ledgers, when a student, for example, goes abroad the household registration is not surrendered. The Local PSB will be advised that this person is abroad for officially-sanctioned reasons. But in actual emigration, the registration is terminated in the sense that "left the country" is marked in the ledger books. This step has some significance, because for a peasant, any land holdings are reallocated while in the case of a city dweller, access to subsidized food is cut off. Professor Johnson further added that a lapse in the household registration, such as in the case of a Chinese person who emigrated and then returned to China, would not be a big issue because the registration can in most cases be easily re-established. The only time a person is actually struck off the ledger is in the case of death. Professor Johnson further pointed out that the registration ledgers may not always be current, and he has observed ledgers which are out of date.

The information provided by these two sources cannot currently be corroborated by the IRBDC.

Lynn T. White III, "Deviance, Modernization, Rations, and Household Registers in Urban China", in Amy Auerbacher Wilson, et. al., Deviance and Social Control in Chinese Society, (New York: Praeger Press, 1977), pp. 151-169.

Martin King Whyte and William L. Parish. Urban LIfe in Contemporary China (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), pp. 16-26.