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Chinese internet companies need to play bigger role in internet rules

By Song Jingli | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2018-05-03 06:45

As China's internet companies have shown the world how their innovation could decide where the internet is going, it's imperative for them to be present when rules governing the internet are set and reviewed, Jia-Rong Low, vice-president of California-based, nonprofit organization Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) told chinadaily.com.cn on April 24 in Beijing.

He said that since ICANN rolled out the New Generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD) program in 2012, the Chinese government has been an active and open-minded entity that has helped in facilitating the program in the country. Any TLD that does not represent a country or a territory is known as a generic TLD, or gTLD, for example, .shop, .phone, according to ICANN.

Since the launch of the new gTLD program, the internet has evolved from just 22 gTLDs to over 1,200 new gTLDs in the root, Low said, adding that out of these 1,200 new gTLDs, more than 100 new gTLD applications were specifically for Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) featuring domain names in various native languages other than English.

Of the top 100 new gTLDs by registration, six of the TLDs are IDN TLDs from China, suggesting that there is a huge demand for domain names in Chinese, he said.

Anyone could log onto the official website by typing 国家开发银行.网址, the Chinese domain name of China Development Bank in any browser, a China Daily reporter found out Wednesday. Similarly, the official website of Bank of Communications also could be reached by typing its Chinese domain name 交通银行.网址.

Low said that China's internet penetration rate stands at 54 percent and the IDNs can help bring the other half of the population online.

According to a report on china.com Wednesday, Baidu will step up its efforts in collecting and showcasing Chinese domain names. The search engine added that if a website preferred to display its Chinese domain name, it could apply to Baidu and after review, the Chinese domain name would be shown to anyone who wanted to connect to the website.

However, there are still challenges for ICANN to fully engage Chinese stakeholders, especially businesses, to the ICANN community for further discussions on the domain name system evolution.

He said the reasons might be multi-fold.

Domain names are not top concerns for companies that chase market share, innovation and dollars, but there is an indirect correlation between additional market share and Chinese domain names, which takes time for them to realize.

In addition, the English language might still be a barrier for Chinese businesses to share their attitude and proposals, and traditionally, Chinese culture discourages disagreement in public.

But things are improving as Chinese companies are growing and if they are not at the table when decisions on how the internet should be governed, they may miss some opportunities, Low said.

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