Despite gaining over 600,000 residents in a year, a city in Northwest China was still unable to shrug off mounting pressure to attract talent, ordering grassroots police officers to go door-to-door and patrol the streets with megaphones to promote pro-talent policies.
"Friends from the Hongruilin market, we are officers from the Hansenzhai bureau. Anyone wants to get a hukou, any one at all?" a video only showing a police officer using a megaphone to promote hukou policies at a local market of Xi'an, Shaanxi Province says.
Ma Tao, a political work department official at the Xi'an Xincheng public security bureau, confirmed the video with the media on Thursday, saying that it is part of the promotional campaign.
Ma said the police have also been distributing flyers door-to-door on hukou policies.
A total of 645,000 residents have gained Xi'an hukou, or household registration, a figure equaling the population of a medium-sized city, since the city announced relaxed hukou policies to attract talent in March 2017, the Worker's Daily reported on May 24.
As of the end of 2017, the city has issued hukou to 245,000 residents, a 335.9 percent year-on-year increase.
Xi'an is planning to increase its downtown population to 10 million by 2020, according to the news site sanqin.com.
Xi'an ramped up its hukou policies in 2018 by lowering the threshold for talent, the city's police authorities announced February 1. Those who hold at least a bachelor's degree or diploma from secondary vocational schools can acquire household registration. People from outside the city can also gain hukou by buying property, the announcement said.
"You do not even have to prepare any paperwork, since you can input the information online on the Xi'an hukou service WeChat public account," Qiqi, a Xi'an resident, told the Global Times on Monday.
On February 4, more than 500 Xi'an police officers vowed to win the city's contest to attract more people and talent.
"City authorities must urgently realize that attracting talent does not end with getting the talent without providing the necessary services in the sphere of housing and education, and the appropriate jobs to resettle talent," Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance.
Zhu warned that if the city government fails to address such issues, the policies will backfire and eventually fail to attract talent in the long run.
Home prices in Xi'an surged by 0.9 percent and 1.6 percent in March and April, National Bureau of Statistics data shows.
The new policies are the main reason for the increase, and people from neighboring regions like Chengdu and Chongqing have been investing in the city's property market, Wang Feng, a local Xi'an real estate agent said.
Aside from Xi'an, cities across China are competing to attract young talent, promising large research grants and housing subsidies to those who can help drive innovation and economic upgrades.
At least 16 second-tier cities, including Chengdu and Wuhan, and major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have released preferential policies to attract foreign talent.
Newspaper headline: Xi’an under pressure to attract talent