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China census called into question over 14m 'mystery' children

Puzzling birth numbers draw criticism over Beijing's family planning policy

BEIJING -- Questions have been raised about the reliability of the latest demographic numbers out of China, with critics accusing the government of manipulating data while some officials scratch their heads over numbers that do not seem to add up.

The National Population Census for 2020, released Tuesday, shows the country had 253.38 million children 14 and younger. Meanwhile, new births between 2006 and 2020 -- the period during which these youngsters were born -- total about 239 million, based on data from the National Bureau of Statistics. This gap of over 5% means slightly more than 14 million children somehow joined the 0-14 age group.

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