China says it will give rights to undocumented children

Li Xue, right, and her elder sister Li Bin. Li Xue wasn't able to go to school because she didn't have a hukou.

Story highlights

  • China says it will give unregistered citizens long denied rights
  • Some 13 million undocumented citizens expected to be affected
  • Li Xue was one of these undocumented, born in violation of the one-child policy

(CNN)China says it will provide 13 million unregistered citizens, most born in violation of China's one-child policy, with crucial documents giving them access to long-denied healthcare and schooling.

Chinese state media reported that Xi Jinping announced the move at a meeting on Wednesday.
    In October, China said it would end its controversial population policy, which restricted most couples to just one child and barred any extra from being registered unless they paid a steep fine.
    People without the documentation, known in Chinese as hukou or household registration, often find themselves marginalized in society.
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    Hukou provides access to a state education and healthcare in your hometown and without one, it's very difficult for "black children," as they are called in Chinese media, to open a bank account, get married or find formal employment.
    "It is a basic legal right for Chinese citizens to lawfully register for hukou. It's also a premise for citizens to participate in social affairs, enjoy rights and fulfill duties," the statement said, according to official news agency Xinhua.
    Li Xue's parents couldn't pay the 5,000 yuan penalty demanded by family planning authorities when she was born in 1993. Unable to attend a state school, she was taught by her elder sister.
    Now working in a restaurant, she's hopeful that if she's able to obtain her hukou, she will fulfill her dream of studying law but she said it was too early to make any plans.
    "They need to put their words into action. No authority has reached out to me."