Some 6.5 million census takers start counting China's more than 1.3 billion people over the next 10 days. They will knock on the doors of about 400 million households. Experts believe that it will be harder to gather accurate information than in previous censuses due to the large unregistered floating population in the booming cities of China's eastern provinces.
For the first time, China will also count foreigners who live in China. They have to answer only eight census questions - compared with the 18 that most Chinese will have to answer. The questions focus primarily on identity, sex, ethnic group, household registration status and education.
The first census results (the so-called "head count") will be made public in April 2011.
Comment: China's census is of paramount importance for the country's future population policy. The government still enforces major parts of the "One-Child Policy" - despite arguments by some demographers that the average fertility may have already fallen to a level of below 1.4 children per woman. Other demographers believe that the average number of children is still around 1.8. Currently, no one knows which fertility estimates are correct. It is expected that the 2010 census will provide more accurate information about the true level of fertility in China, which has major implication for the country's future trends of population aging. The 2010 census is also expected to better document the rural-to-urban migration which is a major factor of China's demographic situation. Analyses of number of internal migrants in China vary widely between 80 and 180 million people.