The People's Daily is the official voice of the central government of the People's Republic of China. For the last 60 years, the People's Daily has published daily issues that provide the single location where the central government and the Communist Party of China announce their respective policies and disseminate governmental, political, and economic messages to the public and the world. Most importantly, since its inception the newspaper has been the true barometer of the political climate of Chinese society on a daily basis.
Before the Open Door policy was adopted by China in the late 1970's, the People's Daily could not be distributed outside China because it contained sensitive government information and policies. Once the People's Daily became available worldwide, the international community quickly realized that it was the best of the Chinese periodicals and indispensable in dealing with Chinese society. The People's Daily is the first and probably the only choice of major libraries and universities in the Western world, mainly because it is the only edition that provides complete documentation of the official record of the Chinese government from 1946 to the present.
The management of the People's Daily has decided to produce an electronic edition based on the original paper edition. In this edition, the entire newspaper is converted into two kinds of electronic files: one type (PDF) recreates the full layout of the printed page and the other (TXT) is a text-only file. The user can switch between the two formats by simply clicking on the specified icons. The two file formats are fully downloadable and printable individually. The search capability of the electronic edition includes a six-layer search engine, which allows users to insert commands into six different categories for conducting a highly targeted search of contents. The titles of the searched and related articles appear on the screen, allowing the users to select the contents for viewing and printing. In addition, the searched keywords are highlighted in different color on the screen for identification; this unique function is included in both text files and original printing formats of the data files.
The electronic edition provides a new powerful tool for all China researchers. It will replace the traditional method of manually searching through mountains of individual newspapers.