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October 1, 2010

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Countdown to big population count

PREPARATIONS for the country's population census, which will begin on November 1, have begun at communities across the city, with foreigners also included.

Census takers will carry identification and have official badges so residents can check before letting them into their homes. Police warn that some criminals may pretend to be census workers in order to gain access.

Prior to the census, social workers have been visiting households to collect basic information, such as how many members a family has, whether people have permanent residency permits and how long they have stayed or will stay in Shanghai.

From next month, trained census workers will visit residential complexes, hotels and even prisons to collect information on people's ages, nationality, levels of education and professions and population migration. Expats will be included, and details of those living in the city or staying here for more than six months will be more important for data analysis as they are considered local permanent residents.

Foreign-language versions of the census form will be simpler concerning cultural and background differences than the one for Chinese citizens.

Zhang Lingbao, director of the Yanlord Garden Community, said social workers who spoke English were visiting foreign residents though there had been some complaints about the face to face format.

"Our workers would not enter foreigners' homes or interview them at the moment if they do not feel comfortable with the format," said Zhang.

Hugh MacDiarmid, a Scot working in Shanghai, said he had been interviewed during the census preparations.

"It was a simple process and took just five minutes," he said. "The woman who came to the door had excellent English and was very polite."

He had no problems with the face-to-face format although the last census he took part in, in the UK, was done through the mail.

However, Lancy Correa, an Indian who has been working in the city for more than seven years, said: "We are just not used to face-to-face interviews."

Shanghai's Vice Mayor Yang Xiong said earlier this year: "There have been great changes since the last census in 2000. New findings from 2010 on population numbers and living standards will provide accurate and scientific information for the government to map out plans for economic and social development."


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