Fight for Chinese Domains

A dispute between the United States and China over the control of Chinese-scripted Internet addresses deepened today as China reiterated its claim over all Chinese language Internet domain names.

“We hope that Chinese people would have the mandate over Chinese domain names,” Mao Wei, director of the China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC), told a news conference in Hong Kong.

The statement is seen as yet another blow to U.S.-based VeriSign Inc. which began offering registrations in Chinese with “.com,” “.net” and “.org” extensions last month.

VeriSign has identified mainland China as a key market with its rapidly growing Internet penetration.

The company established itself at the top of the Web registration business through its US$20 billion acquisition of Network Solutions Inc. in June.

International Spat

CNNIC officials have accused VeriSign of infringing on China’s sovereignty and of introducing an inferior standard.

As an alternative, CNNIC has been selling its own version of Chinese registration with the “.cn” extension as well as extensions ending with Chinese characters.

The body announced today it has received around 820,000 registrations since the launch of the service in early November.

Many confused businesses and individuals have rushed to register for both competing services for fear of losing out in the future.

Cybersquatting Issues

Hong Kong’s Chinese Domain Name Corporation (C-DN), which currently handles CNNIC’s overseas registration matters, said it makes no sense to have overseas bodies managing domain names for Greater China.

“Right now with dot-coms, there is no dispute resolution organization in Asia. It’s ironic. It’s a disrespect to the IP (Internet Protocol) rights and the people here,” said C-DN’s CEO, John Huang.

CNNIC said it has come together with other authorities in Greater China including those in Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan to formulate uniform rules regarding the management of Chinese domain names.

But legal experts are skeptical about CNNIC’s effectiveness in tackling the problem of cybersquatting, where people stake a claim on the Internet to a prominent name in the hope of selling it later.

“They are not even trying to help. Their attitude is: go to court because we are not going to deal with it,” Janice Wingo of Baker McKenzie told Reuters.