Thursday 15th July 2010

Expat’s census China:  China expatriates to be surveyed for first time

Concerns were raised yesterday in response to the Chinese government’s plans to introduce an expat census for all expatriates living in China and its special administrative regions.

The new census, which will commence on the 1st November 2010, will be the first ever census aimed at collecting information about expatriates who are living in China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Despite assurances from the Chinese government that the information collected via the survey will remain private, many expatriates have raised concerns about

Discussing the survey in a recent publication of China Daily, Zhang Weimin, deputy chief of the National Bureau of Statistics commented: “All census enumerators will take an oath of confidentiality, and any information provided in the questionnaire cannot be used as evidence in administrative actions against the interviewees.”

According to a press release issued by Zhang, the survey administered to the expatriate population in China will be much smaller than that provided to Chinese nationals and will not required interviewees to provide any information about their income or religion. Instead, questions will be limited to gaining an understanding about the demographics of the expatriate population and information will be required about the individual’s date of birth, relationship to the household, sex, purpose of staying in China, duration of stay, educational attainment and citizenship.

The decision to include expatriates in this year’s census has been directly attributed to the increase in expats living within China and its SARs. Discussing this, Xing Zhiong, a spokesman from Beijing’s China census group commented: “More expats are coming in, and China has seen an increasing trend of labor migration and differences in registered and actual residences.

“Compared with expats’ registry with the border police, this census aims to know more.”

The news that expatriates who have been living in China for over six months will be included in the survey has been met with mixed reactions. Many expatriates have voice concerns that their information will not remain private. Commenting on a blogging site, Jung Jae Hyo, from the Republic of Korea, said:

"It'll be difficult for my family to communicate with the Chinese government workers as they cannot speak Korean.

"And how can the census-takers guarantee our information won't be leaked?"

Other expatriates, however, accept the underlying intentions of the census and agree that expats should be included in the country’s stock take.

Victoria Briton, an American citizen and long-term teacher at Qingdao University in the 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.”

Regardless of your views concerning the survey, there will be no escaping it if you are an expatriate in China. Foreign permanent residents living in Mainland China are also being politely reminded to also ensure that they also update their local police station registration and ensure that all their contact details are correct prior to the administration of the survey.

Read the full article: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2010-06/10/content_9959831.htm

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