The China Patent Information Center (CPIC) of SIPO has recently launched a new version of its Chinese language patent database "Patentstar". This database allows searches in Chinese patents, utility models and designs from 1985 onwards with a time delay of 2-3 days. Original documents can be downloaded as PDF versions. Currently, machine readable text data of the claims and description and Chinese legal status information are freely available. Some more advanced features are only open to subscribers. As this database is still in a trial phase, there may be changes to the free availability of data in the future. An English interface is currently still under preparation.
A first step-by-step guide showing how to retrieve PDF documents via the new Chinese interface of "Patentstar" can be found in the "Searching in databases" section of the EPO's virtual helpdesk on Asian patent information.