This is a really good question:) Ok, many of you will say alibaba.com or madeinchina.com. Everyone is representing his/her own experience. Some really are/were lucky, in finding a reliable supplier. But some have experienced "nightmares".
As a professional import consultant and sourcing expert, i made a deep research and rated the directories, according my knowledge. I hope it will help all new-starters (and some disappointed veterans).
#1 : alibaba.com
With the most members (paid and free), it is still the biggest directory. No wonder, it has the most visitors and it is the most popular China manufacturer directory. It is very user friendly and always updated. But be aware of the "scammers" ! Even paid members with 1-2 years "gold supplier" labels, can be one of them.
Whois info: Alibaba.com Corporation-Room 2403-05 Jubilee Centre Wanchai Hong Kong SAR
"Alibaba.com Corporation" owns about 517 other domains.
Visitors by Country: China 43.4% India 10.8% United States 9.2%Indonesia 2.6% Pakistan 2.6% Great Britain (UK) 1.9%
Visitors by City: Beijing 11.3% Shanghai 6.2% Shenzhen 5.1%Hangzhou 3.4% Guangzhou 3.2% Madras 1.5%
#2 : globalsources.com
It is not only a directory for mainly Chinese manufacturer and trading companies. They sell also physical catalogs and sourcing reports. The paid advertisers are more professional and reliable (my personal opinion). Amount of member is much less.
Whois info:Trade Media Holdings Limited
c/o 4718 E. Cactus Rd., Ste. 108 Phoenix, AZ 85032 USA
Visitors by Country: United States 26.5% China 15.7% India 12.5%
Great Britain (UK) 3.6% Indonesia 2.6% Australia 2.5%
Visitors by City: Shenzhen 6.6% Shanghai 4.8% New York 2.5%
Madras 2.2% Bombay 2.1% Beijing 2%
#3 : madeinchina.com
According to the amount of members, it is the second biggest directory, after alibaba.com. An advantage here would be, that the gold suppliers are visited at least 4 times (according to their statement). Easier to find reliable suppliers.
Whois info: Ningbo HuiMei Information & Technology Co.,Ltd. Room 407 Chuangye Building NO.66 Yanshi Road
Ningbo National New & HiTech Industrial Development Zone - CHINA
Visitors by Country: China 30.7% United States 19.2% India 8.5% Iran 3.1% Australia 2.8% Indonesia 2.6%
Visitors by City: Beijing 11.7% Shanghai 4% Shenzhen 3.9% Hefei 3.7% Wuhan 2.5%Guangzhou 2.4%
Conclusion: All 3 directories are great sources, especially to professionals. I mean "professionals" of sourcing in China. New starters may read my previous article, which was also published on ezinearticles.com: