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FreePint BlogSelected Sources for Emerging Markets: China

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By Adrian Janes


DocuTicker editors contribute brief articles to FUMSI on conducting research with grey literature - reports from government agencies, think tanks, research institutes and public interest organisations.


In my work as a contributing editor for DocuTicker, I research publicly available reports on a number of global topics. Here are some of my favourite resources for information on China:

China has experienced immense changes in the 30 years since Deng Xiaoping began the process of opening the country’s command economy to the rest of the world. With the world’s biggest population (1,330,044,544 according to and average GDP growth of 10.8% over the period 2004-08, its power and influence in the economic and political spheres are likewise expanding. Its latter day development has been so great that it almost seems misleading to describe it as an “emerging” market. Except that, despite rising unemployment and other woes, it does not seem likely that its potential has yet peaked. It is with a view to keeping aware of that unfolding potential that a selection of information resources is presented here.

The British Library has a page for Asian and African Studies. In seeking information on China, look for Far Eastern (under Linguistic/Geographic groups). It must be said that there is more of an academic emphasis in the choice of sites than that given by the Library of Congress. Nonetheless, some of these are useful to a wider audience, such as the University of Edinburgh’s East Asian Studies subject guide with its News and Newspapers section and a broad range of further sources under Internet Links.

China Findouter has a well-organised Business and Economy section which includes directories, portals and associations. An interesting feature of its results is the categories listed under each one; clicking on one of these (e.g. Wire Mesh) will produce a fresh grouping of all the results within that category, something which can help the searcher to pursue a line of enquiry more deeply and bring in related sources. Any category can also be viewed by region (Beijing, Guangdong, Shanghai, etc).

The Economist offers a rich briefing on China, including a political and economic forecast, a factsheet and some economic data (taken from the full charged-for report produced by the Economist Intelligence Unit). These are complemented by a good range of recent articles from the magazine’s print edition.

For a fuller official statistical picture, China’s Ministry of Commerce is of some use, although some of the figures given are, disappointingly, several years old. The News Release part of the site should also be examined so as to obtain data which are more recent.

Further useful figures can be gleaned from Eurostat’s monthly publication, External and intra-European Union trade (the July 2009 issue is at - PDF). China is only one of the countries whose dealings with the EU are included, but this perspective helps put its development into an international context.

The Library of Congress’ “Portal to the World” on China follows the standardised format for its international portals: the Business, Commerce, Economy section is an adroit mixture of official and commercial sites. [Editor's note: In September 2010, this site was taken down for a content review.]

The American perspective can be found through the Foreign Trade Statistics provided by the US Census Bureau. The specific page for China is here, while there is also an index for all countries.

One of the most significant events in China’s opening up to the globalised economy was when it joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in December 2001. This dedicated WTO page includes WTO-related news, tariff data, disputes in which China has featured, and its contributions to WTO conferences and negotiations. Naturally, statistical material is again very important here, and it can be found via a database of all the WTO’s members. This features Trade, Tariff and Services profiles, along with international trade statistics.

The sites described in this article are some key resources for keeping abreast of China’s continuing emergence. The very fact of how much information can be obtained from non-Chinese sources, and the additional point that Chinese business and economic websites almost invariably provide an English language version as well, both testify to how Chinese developments powerfully affect the wider world, and vice versa.

Adrian Janes

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at

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