Just ten foreign companies are allowed to sell direct to consumers in the People's Republic of China - among them US giants Amway and Avon Cosmetics.

But that vast market is set to be opened up to direct-selling organizations before the end of this year, although a cautious government still scarred by pyramid scams, will almost certainly impose strict controls.

Chinese legislators are reportedly drafting a more accommodating regime for direct selling which is expected to become law by January 1 2005.

The shade of Bernie (Do You Seriously Want to Be Rich?) Cornfeld need not apply.

Data sourced from People's Daily Online; additional content by WARC staff