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China to offer tax discounts to tempt parents to register their uncounted children

posted 20 Oct 2010, 06:10 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 20 Oct 2010, 06:14 ]

China says it will cut taxes to families with unregistered children if they voluntarily register with the police during its once-a-decade census of the world's most populous country.

China will offer tax benefits to parents of unregistered children to encourage them to register with their local police for the country's national census an Chinese officials said Wednesday (October 20).

Officials hope that previously uncounted children, born in defiance of the one-child policy, can finally be counted and that the current degree of China's urbanisation can finally be measured.

Feng Nailin, director-general of the department of population and employment statistics of the National Bureau of Statistics, said he was hoping that the tax discounts would persuade more people to open their doors to the census counters.

"In order to encourage the people to participate in the census, we are enforcing laws to cut social upbringing tax to people who voluntarily register their additional children. Secondly, families who are going through hardship will be able to pay on instalments," he said at a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

Organisers are offering assurances of privacy if couples register their uncounted children, he added, and information would not be passed on to law-enforcement authorities.

In another change to previous surveys, China is for the first time counting people based on where they actually live, rather than where they are registered under the household registration, or 'hukou', system.

China's last census in 2000 showed the population at 1.295 billion.

It placed 64 percent or about 800 million people as still in the countryside, even though migrant workers had been flooding to cities and coastal factories for a decade at least.

This year's census will also be the first to take foreigners living in China into account, Feng said.

"The United Nations is focusing on international influx and in the past we have not included foreigners in our census. At present, the number of long-term foreign residents in China including those from Hong Kong and Macau is gradually increasing," he said.

An annual survey by the National Bureau of Statistics estimated China's population at 1.335 billion at the end of 2009.

On the streets of Beijing, many people believed that the population is higher than official numbers suggest.

"I think some rural people have two to three children. I heard that the population number in cities are more realistic, but rural people are trying to avoid being registered. I think the total population will definitely exceed previous levels," said 45-year-old tourist Zhang Li.

Zheng Fuyi said he was interested to find out just how many foreigners now called China home.

"I think we should include the number of foreigners living in China in the census. At least we should have an idea of how many are residing here," Zheng said.

China will mobilise its six million census takers from early November, Feng said.