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Monday, 13 November, 2000, 13:56 GMT
Corruption hits China census
Unemployed advertising for work
Migrant workers may try to evade the census takers
By Beijing correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes

China's attempt to count its massive population has already been tainted by corruption.

World populations
China 1.3bn
India 1bn
United States 275m
Indonesia 210m
Source: UN Population Division
A number of census-takers in central China have been fired after they began imposing an illegal census fee on farmers.

This follows the revelation that the census in another province appears to have under-counted the population by around 10 million people.

Officials are currently trying to count every man, woman and child in China's colossal population, in what is the world's biggest census ever undertaken.

Everyone expected the task to be difficult, but corrupt officials appear to be making matters even worse.

chinese family
Most families are only allowed one child
In one county in Anhui province, officials have been discovered charging every household a census fee.

One farmer was even said to have been charged the equivalent of about $5 because he owned a tractor.

Another farmer had to pay around $14 for his six family members, according to the Beijing Morning Post.

Officials in Anhui say those responsible are being punished, but admit that illegal fee-taking is widespread and almost impossible to control.

Migrant workers

Meanwhile, in the nearby province of Hunan, newspaper reports say census officials have been unable to track down nearly 10 million people who they estimate should be living there.

It is not yet clear whether the millions who are missing are simply evading the census-takers or if they have moved elsewhere, perhaps to China's booming coastal cities, looking for work.

China's floating population - those who have left the countryside and gone to the cities - is estimated to be somewhere around 100 million, nearly 10% of the country's total population.

Trying to count them is proving the biggest headache facing the census-takers.

The Chinese Government has been forced to extend the census period by nearly a week to give more time for the census-takers to try and track them down.

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See also:

31 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
China begins massive census
01 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
China's youth: Shaping the future
25 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
China steps up 'one child' policy
04 Sep 00 | Business
The UN and world poverty
12 Oct 99 | World population
Population: Why we should worry
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