Migrants no longer have to carry residency papers on them, police can no longer forcibly detain them and temporary residency fees have been slashed, although abuses are sometimes reported.
’A de facto apartheid system’
But Phelim Kine, an Asia researcher with New York-based Human Rights Watch, notes that traveling workers do not enjoy social benefits, such as unemployment services and access to medical care, that urban residents do because of a household regulation system.
"This is a de facto apartheid system," Kine said.
Migrant workers, who usually perform the lowest-paid and most dangerous jobs, also have little legal recourse in disputes with employers because of a widespread lack of labor contracts.
"This incident illustrates the types of abuses that migrant workers in China are prey to; that they lack legal status, and in this case, an attempt to gain this legal status results in physical violence," said Kine.
Human rights groups have also said while migrants are allowed to apply for temporary residency, they must pay extra for schooling and rarely receive insurance or access to subsidized housing.
Also Monday, Xinhua said police in Guizhou province had detained 100 people, including 39 members of local gangs, for their role in last month’s protest over the death of the teenage student.
Peng Dequan, vice director of provincial public security, was quoted as saying they were still looking for other "gangsters" who were in hiding.
Authorities have accused local gangs of fomenting the unrest, and have urged offenders to surrender and encouraged local residents to give information on others suspected of organizing it, Xinhua said