A December 1998 report from U.S. Embassy Beijing
Summary. Search engines on the websites of central government Chinese-language publications such as the Peoples Daily and of lesser-known provincial newspapers such as Henan Ribao make it easy to obtain dozens of recent articles in which keywords such as “economy”, “North Korea”, or “environmental protection” occur. The full Chinese text of a recent interview by the People’s Daily Pyonyang correspondent with North Korean rocket scientists, for example, can be retrieved in just a few moments. U.S. mirror sites of People’s Daily and the English-language China Daily considerably speed access for users in the United States. Between August 1 and November 30, 1998, the People’s Daily carried 1235 or about ten articles per day which mentioned the United States. Over the same period People’s Daily carried seventeen Y2K computer bug articles while Wenhui Bao [Shanghai] carried twenty-three. Nanfang Ribao [Guangzhou] has carried just four articles on Y2K during 1998, the first of which appeared on July 23. Computer industry journals carried far more articles mentioning Y2K. China Computerworld had 110 articles and China Computer News had 200 articles mentioning Y2K as of November 30.
Advances in Chinese-language search engine technology and rapidly growing investments in the creation of more Chinese language content on the Internet in China now enable Chinese newspapers and magazines to put high performance search engines on their websites. The rapid increase in Chinese-language information on the PRC branch of the internet has brought very valuable tools to American students of Chinese affairs. Online full-text version of major Chinese newspapers such as the People's Daily, Wenhui Bao (Shanghai) and Nanfang Ribao (Guangzhou) can be searched easily. Major Chinese newspapers available online are listed on major Chinese language search engines such as Sohoo [Search Fox] at http://www.sohoo.com.cn, at Yahoo! Chinese at http://gbchinese.yahoo.com, and at the Guangming Daily website (http://www.gmdaily.com.cn/gbnn.htm). Internet newspaper web sites and search engines were very useful in gathering information for two recent Embassy reports on the Year 2000 Computer Bug (Y2K) and computer security in China. Computer searches of these newspaper websites make frequency and content analyses of Chinese newspapers very fast and convenient. For example, in just a few moments one can determine that the People’s Daily between August 1 and November 30, 1998 carried 1235 or ten articles per day which mentioned the United States.
Important newspaper online resources include the People's Daily (http://www.peopledaily.com.cn) and Guangming Daily (http://www.gmdaily.com.cn) in Beijing. The full text of People's Daily articles since January 1, 1995 is available online. In just minutes, articles from the Wenhui Bao (http://www.whb.online.sh.cn) and Xinmin Wanbao (http://www.xmwb.com) of Shanghai and the Guangdong Provincial Communist Party Committee paper Nanfang Daily as well as its extraordinarily popular weekend edition Nanfang Zhoumou [Southern Weekend] both at (http://www.nanfangdaily.com.cn) of Guangzhou can be found and retrieved. [Comment: The tongue of the party seems a little looser in southern China. These two papers, and especially Nanfang Zhoumou, carry many interesting articles. End comment] The Nanfang Ribao search engine currently offers full text searches of articles appearing from January - October 1998. English-language China Daily (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn in the China and http://www.chinadaily.net in the U.S. The search engine on the Chinese site is easier to use.) articles which appeared over the previous four months can be retrieved by a search engine. Search engines are generally found on the main page by clicking on a button labeled search (jiansuo [¼ìË÷]). The multiple newspaper search engine NewsHoo at http://www.newshoo.com.cn boasts of adding 3500 newspaper articles to its database each day from Chinese, Hong Kong and overseas (via Sinanet http://www.sinanet.com).
Additional resources are found in the weeklies and newspapers which operate under the umbrella of major regional newspapers. These publications are often found on the website of the parent publication. For example, the People's Daily weekly magazine Global Times [Huanqiu Shibao] carries many stories on world affairs, including occasional reports by the People's Daily Pyonyang correspondent. China Computerworld [Zhongguo Jisuanji Shijie Ribao at http://www.computerworld.com.cn/] is a rich source of keyword-searchable information on the Chinese computer and electronics industry. Off the Computerworld website are affiliated publications (with many full-text online articles) such as the monthly "Electronic Intellectual Property Rights" [Dianzi Zhishiquanli] and “Electronics and Informatization” [Dianzi Yu Xinxihua] that carry articles on policy issues.
Some provincial newspapers also offer full-text searches. The All-China Journalists Association website at http://www.acja.org.cn lists many Chinese newspapers by region and subject. Provincial newspapers can be found using some of the websites mentioned above or by going through several layers of a Chinese-language search engine to find a list of provincial newspaper websites. A late November visit to Henan Ribao, the official paper of the Henan Province Communist Party Committee, at http://www.hnby.com.cn) brought up 168 articles about the economy. Many of the articles concerned local as well as national and international economic issues. Provincial newspapers are often difficult to obtain in Beijing, so the websites of provincial newspapers such as Henan Ribao can offer information on local conditions and policies.
Recent searches of PRC newspaper sites demonstrate how newspaper searches can be very useful to students of Chinese affairs. For example:
The Global Times interview of three DRPK rocket scientists by the People's Daily Pyonyang correspondent recently attracted considerable attention. The Global Times is searchable from October 1, 1998. A late November search brought up seven stories in which the word "Korea" [Chaoxian, the name for Korea preferred in the DPRK] including the full text of the interview with the DPRK rocket scientists. A search of the People's Daily since August 1, 1998 brought up 121 articles in which the word "Chaoxian" appears.
Late November 1998 searches on People's Daily articles which published since August 1, 1998 brought up 551 articles in which the words China [Zhongguo] and United States [Meiguo] appear. To carry out this search using two search terms, the words MEIGUO AND ZHONGGUO [ÃÀ¹ú AND ÖÐ¹ú] were entered. The names of the two countries in Chinese characters are separated by the English conjunction "AND". Similar searches on People's Daily articles since August 1 using other search terms such as China and India (51 articles), China and Iraq (30 articles), China and economy (1420 articles), family planning (82 articles), and Chinese yuan (renminbi) and devaluation (68 articles). Search engines on the websites of other major PRC newspapers such as Wenhui Bao (Shanghai), and Nanfang Zhoumou (found on the website of its parent Nanfang Ribao at http://www.nanfangdaily.com.cn/ZM in Guangzhou) are also very useful. Notice that the Nanfang Zhoumou is searched from the search engine off the main page of Nanfang Ribao. These search function could be used for a content analysis overview of a newspaper as well as to search for an article on a specific topic.
While sifting through the many articles on Chinese reform over the twenty years since the 1978 Communist Party plenum, ESTOFF entered the search terms reform, science and twenty years [“GAIGE KAIFANG ¸Ä¸ï¿ª·Å” AND “KEXUE ¿ÆÑ§” AND “ERSHINIAN¶þÊ®Äê” ] [Note: “AND” is a Boolean operator specifiying that both the preceding and following terms must appear in the article. An “OR” would mean either the preceding or the following term must appear. End note] The People’s Daily search engine responded with a list of 68 articles since August 1, 1998 containing those three search terms. Articles published from January 1, 1995 onwards can be retrieved from the People’s Daily website.
Search engines such as Yahoo! Chinese not only index newspaper websites but some newspaper articles as well. For example a search of the name of He Qinglian, author of the influential 1998 book "Pitfalls of Modernization" brought up two dozen book reviews in newspapers in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.
A search of the websites of People’s Daily, Wenhui Bao [Shanghai] and Nanfang Ribao [Guangzhou] showed that between August 1 and November 30, 1998 the People’s Daily carried 17 Y2K computer bug articles and Wenhui Bao [Shanghai] carried 23 (Wenhui Bao has carried 30 since January 1; a browser incompatibility problem precluded use of the January 1, 1995 - July 1998 People’s Daily database so August 1 - November 30 numbers are used for comparison) Nanfang Ribao [Guangzhou] has carried just four articles on Y2K thus far in 1998. The first of which appeared on July 23. Computer industry journals carried far more articles mentioning Y2K. China Computerworld had 110 and China Computer News [Zhongguo Jisuanji Bao] had 200 articles as of November 30.
Careful selection of search terms is essential: Y2K depending upon the article is referred to as the Year 2000 Problem [2000 nian wenti] or the Thousand Year Bug [qian nian chong]. A Y2K search thus should use the Boolean “OR” operator to ensure that any article that mentions the Year 2000 Problem OR the Thousand Year Bug is retrieved. While the “Year 2000 problem” is the preferred Y2K term in Beijing, “bug” nearly ties “year 2000” 20-18 in Shanghai’s Wenhui Bao (a few times both terms appeared in the same article) while Guangzhou’s Nanfang Ribao has four articles with bug but none with “Year 2000 problem”. The Y2K articles in the three newspapers were nearly all different although all three newspapers show a sharp upswing in Y2K article frequency during the third week of September. [Comment: The official press and the computer trade press are talking more and more about Y2K. Will Chinese central and local government, state-run and private enterprises listen? End comment]
Some major Chinese newspapers such as People's Daily and the English-language China Daily have mirror (duplicate) websites in the United States. The People's Daily also has a mirror site in the United States at http://www.peopledaily.net and another in Japan. The address of any mirror site can usually be found on the opening page of the website in China. The U.S. mirror sites greatly increase the speed of information retrieval for users in the United States. Users in China will find that daytime online searches can be very slow although the rapid expansion of Internet capacity during 1998 has noticeably improved access times even during the day. Searches done in the late evening or the morning before 9 AM local time are much faster.
For full text searching, a Chinese language package which allows Chinese character input is needed. Several of these are available for purchase on corporate websites such as Twinbridge (http://www.twinbridge.com) and Unionway (http://www.unionway.com). NJSTAR (http://www.njstar.com) now offers a Chinese-Japanese-Korean viewer/input engine which integrates with Netscape Navigator browser. If running both a web browser, such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer, and Chinese language software is difficult, an upgrade of computer RAM memory to 24 megabytes or more often solves the problem.
http://gbchinese.yahoo.com Chinese-language Yahoo. The best entry point for the Chinese language web both
for beginners and advanced users alike. An excellent search engine and many good news channels.
http://www.sina.com.cn The biggest Chinese website. Many news items, Chinese-language forums, and a very popular BBS. A good choice to set as your starting page for when you call up your web browser.
http://www.163.com A good entry point for the Chinese-language web. The largest collection of personal webpages in China and most authoritative rankings of Chinese websites.
http://www.163.net The largest free e-mail mailbox service in China. In just nine months the number of users has climbed to 400,000 and the number of visits has passed 10 million. This site also provides mail filtering, mail fax, paging, automatic response, mail transmission at a designated time and other services.
http://www.asia1.com.sg/zaobao Singapore’s Chinese language newspaper. Very popular with Chinese the world over.
http://chat.silversand.net Twelve public chat rooms. Users can create up to 150 private chat rooms. Every evening over 500 people are simultaneously on this site.
http://www8.silversand.net/nethome/goldbook The most visited personal homepages in China. Nothing special about the page design, but each month 620,000 people visit here to read the literary works carried on its pages.
http://www.online.sh.cn Shanghai Online. Focus on East China. The most popular section is the "Stocks and Bonds Star" page. Once you have opened an account with a broker and installed the appropriate software, you can trade online.
http://www.sohu.com The Chinese language entry point best known in China. Includes news, sports and multimedia information.
http://paulgao.com.cn A very popular personal webpage that has been visited nearly two million times already. This website also carries many free software programs.