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NEWS1 May 2004

Chinese MR hopes for self-regulation

Chinese MR hopes for self-regulation

The launch of a new market research "watchdog" in China has been hailed as a step on the road to self-regulation for the country's flourishing research industry.

The China Market Research Industry Association ( CMRIA ) will be run under the guidance of the state owned National Bureau of Statistics ( NBS ), and will draft rules, regulations and codes of conduct to "supervise the behaviour of [market research] institutions and maintain market order", reported the People's Daily, the Communist Party newspaper.

Zhu Xiangdong, NBS deputy director, said: "Market research, as a well developed marketing method in developed countries, enjoys huge room for development in China."

Andy Lai, general manager of the agency United Research China, heralded the move as a "good sign". "It's a continuation of the process of allowing more freedom for the industry to self-regulate," he said.

Ke Huixin, president of the China Marketing Research Association ( CMRA ), which was set up in 2001, and vice-president of the CMRIA, said the new association has a "wider" scope than the CMRA, incorporating research, databases, information services and consulting.

Research and the wider business services market have experienced more freedoms and seen an influx of foreign competition since China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001. Most of the top multinational research companies have a presence in the country, which lept from 14th to 9th place in the world rankings in 2002 with turnover of $302m.

The government still maintains stringent controls over research questionnaires, which have to be submitted to the State Security Bureau for approval. However, Andy Lai said: "In our experience, most commercial research is OK. We just need to file it and we get almost automatic approval." Opinion polling remains banned.

May | 2004