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Monday, November 15, 2010

China Census 2010

I trudged home after a long day at work. It was dark outside & the hallways in my apartment building were dim. I got off the elevator, climbed the last flight of stairs, & turned the corner toward my apartment.

Suddenly a man appeared out of the shadows speaking to me in Chinese. I was startled at first, but then remembered that in China stalkers & rapists are not likely to be lurking outside my apartment door. I didn't understand what he was saying - & I was tired - so I gave him my standard "I don't want to talk to you" answer: 没有 mei2 you3, Don't have.

But he was persistent. He approached me with a clipboard & an ID badge slung from a lanyard around his neck. It looked important. I finally took a look at his creditials & discovered that he was from the China Census Bureau, & he wanted to count me.

He asked for my passport & handed me a short form in English to fill out. I explained to him that my family name came last (in China, your family name is first), & told him that I was an English teacher. I signed the form, he thanked me, & I waved to him a friendly 再见 zai4 jian4, See you again.

Apparently, the Chinese government is damn serious about this year's census. They've sent six million people door to door trying to get the most accurate count possible of the Chinese population - & they think they can get it all done in two weeks.

I don't know about the other 5 million some-odd census volunteers, but my guy was on the ball. He didn't take no for an answer & he got the job done. Perhaps for the first time in history we'll know how many Chinese people there really are.

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