Domain name reform promises easier internet access for Chinese users


A new Chinese domain name system will be in place by mid-2009.

English domain names have generally acted as a barrier for internet users in non-English-speaking countries. However, the Chinese language is the second most commonly used language on the Internet. Further, according to a report issued in July 2008 by the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC), the number of internet users in China has reached 253 million, surpassing the number of users in the United States.

In recognition of this important characteristic of the community of internet users, the Internet Engineering Taskforce  has set up a working group to build an internationalized domain name system. Given the large number of internet users in China, it is not surprising that the Chinese language was the first to be selected in this campaign. The new Chinese domain name system will follow the international domain name system.
In relation to international domain names (eg, '.com', '.net' and '.org'), the new Chinese domain name will be added before the top-level domain (TLD) (eg, 'Chinese'). These will be administered by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers.  
With regard to China’s country-code TLD, '.cn', there will be three options:
  • the TLD consists of Chinese characters;
  • the second-level domain name consists of Chinese characters; or
  • the TLD and the second-level domain name consist of Chinese characters.
These domain names will be administered by the CNNIC. Once a Chinese domain name has been successfully registered with an accredited registrar, customers will receive their own email account with the corresponding Chinese domain name.
The new Chinese domain name system will hopefully reduce language barriers, thereby helping Chinese users to access information on the Internet more effectively. Further, the new system will provide more opportunities for small and medium-sized Chinese enterprises, as well as Chinese individuals, to promote their brands online.
Ai-Leen Lim, Bird & Bird, Hong Kong and Beijing

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