China will begin it’s first national census in 10 years. The authorities hope it will clarify the number of migrant workers, which is said to be more than 200 million by some estimates. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
In a keynote speech, Premier Wen Jiabao said earlier this year that migrant workers needed better treatment.
More than six million workers have been hired for the huge task in the world’s most populous country. They will fan out across China in order to account for every individual in a country with a population of more than 1.3 billion.
The biggest challenge will be documenting migrant workers because they often have no fixed address.
In recent years tens of millions of Chinese have moved from the countryside to the cities looking for work, and many of these workers have been marginalised and denied services.
Chinese authorities also hope that the census will reveal how many children there are in the country, which is generally under-reported.
The country’s population controls and the one-child policy often leads people to not register extra children.
However the authorities say that if families come clean during the census, the penalties will be smaller, and that the poorest families will be allowed to pay any fines through instalments.