Advertising expenditure in the communist Klondyke that is the People's Republic of China soared by 20% in the first half of 2005, according to the local unit of Nielsen Media Research.

Says Rita Chan, NMR's client service director for China: "The market is becoming very competitive, so companies want to increase their share of noise by spending more money.

"China also continues to open up because of its entry into the World Trade Organization, and there are a number of sectors that will be opening in the next few years."

As everywhere else on the face of the globe, Procter & Gamble tops the list of spenders, primarily via its Olay face cream and Crest toothpaste brands. While US media multinationals such as Viacom, Walt Disney Company and News Corporation are lobbying for the right to jump aboard the broadcast rights gravy train.

And the usual suspects among the world's top agency groups - Omnicom, WPP, Interpublic and Publicis - are also feverishly digging their claims in the biggest gold rush of the century.

Ad spending on TV, magazines and newspapers across 166 cities totaled 143 billion yuan ($17.68bn; €14.55bn; £9.87bn) in the first half, reports NMR.

But that figure is certainly an overestimate, in that it is based on ratecard data and excludes discounts. These are common and range from between 25% and 75%.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff