Census begins in China

Beijing, Nov 3 (Calcutta Tube) Over 6.5 million census takers Monday fanned out across China and would visiting more than 400 million households to try to get an accurate count of the country’s population over a 10-day period.

The census takers, dressed in a uniforms and bearing a certificate, are asking everyone living and working on the mainland information about their personal lives.

Anyone born before Monday gets included, but anyone born after Monday gets left out until the next census in 2020, China Daily reported citing the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

About 90 percent of the people will be asked to fill in an 18-item form, covering their sex, ethnic group, and education, while the other 10 percent, chosen randomly, will be asked to fill in a longer 45-question form.

Foreigners have it easier – they only have eight questions to answer.

The main census data will be made public in April 2011.

Around 700 million yuan ($103 million) of central government funds will be spent on the census, according to officials.

Many people are, however, worried about their privacy, and many census takers had found in a trial run that people simply refused to open their door to them.

According to Tan Bihua, a census taker in the southern city of Guangzhou, where the census started Oct 25 ahead of the nationwide campaign because of the 16th Asian Games, each person is responsible for about 120 to 150 households and the greatest difficulty is that they often cannot even find the people.

Tan said she had to pay eight visits to one household to get their information because they were migrant workers who had no regular work hours, the Southern Metropolis Daily reported.

In Beijing, most residents received a mobile phone message, asking them to take part in a cooperative spirit.

Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang asked people to cooperate with the census takers so that the statistics are accurate. He promised that any personal information collected will be kept strictly confidential.

If people repeatedly refuse to open the door to the census takers, they have the right to ask police for help, the Beijing News said.

Yang Shu, deputy director of the census office of Maizidian in Beijing’s Chaoyang district, said they have recruited volunteers with bilingual or multilingual skills to help with the census. They have also translated the questionnaire into at least five languages, including English, French and German.

The previous census in 2000 showed China had 1.29 billion people.

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