Fri, May 28, 2010
China > China & World

China Focus: China to count foreign residents for the first time in national census

2010-05-28 15:40:43 GMT2010-05-28 23:40:43 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Foreign residents will be surveyed for the first time in China's upcoming population census beginning November 1, according to the Regulation on National Population Census publicized Friday.

The national census aims to survey "each natural person" including foreign residents in China at the census time, said an explanatory statement of the regulation which was jointly issued by the State Council's Legislative Affairs Office and the National Bureau of Statistics Friday.

Foreigners on short-term business or sight-seeing trips will not be covered by the census, the statement reads.

China has begun conducting a national population census every ten years since 1990. The previous five censuses only covered Chinese nationals on the mainland.

Victoria Briton, an American teacher in Qingdao University in east China's Shandong Province, said "The government should collect the information about legally residing foreigners in China, so that they will have a good knowledge about who is living in this country."

"This is what the American government does," she said.

It has become a common practice for various countries to incorporate foreigners in their population census, and the move was also proposed by the United Nations, according to Friday's government statement.

Some foreigners, however, has expressed their hesitation due to concerns on safety of personal information and possible language barriers.

Jung Jae Hyo, from the Republic of Korea, has been working in China for one and a half years.

"It'll be difficult for my family to communicate with the Chinese government workers as they cannot speak Korean," he said. "And how can the census-takers guarantee our information won't be leaked?"

According to the pilot survey questionnaire for foreigners for the upcoming sixth national census, the census will collect data on foreigner's name, age, gender, nationality, educational attainment, purpose and duration of stay.

The questions in the questionnaire are simpler than those for Chinese citizens and are written in Chinese and English.

The new regulation, which is to take effect in June, clearly states that the information of the surveyed should be kept confidential and anyone who leaks the information will be punished according to law.

Zhou Mianxian, deputy director of the statistics bureau of Shandong's Laixi City, said census-takers will be accompanied by interpreters when knocking on the door of foreign residents.

The Qingdao statistics bureau is working on detailed plans and is busy hiring interpreters to help foreigners with the census.

The last census in the world's most populous country, a decade ago found there were 1.29533 billion people in China.

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