For 1 billion speakers, domain names officially switch to Chinese


ICANN oversees the global domain name system that turns “” into an IP address, and at a major ICANN meeting today in Europe, the organization made two important decisions. If you’ve been reading Interwebs, you’ve probably heard that a new .XXX top-level domain has been approved for anything pornographic. Porn! Internet is for porn! Raaaaaagh!

But, from ICANN’s perspective, that was the least important news, because the internet, before it can be used for porn or anything else, has to job for the people. And so far, billions of Chinese-speaking people have had no officially recognized, internationally standard way of entering full web addresses in their native language. (Various local solutions have been in use for some time, but ICANN’s process is designed to avoid confusion and to avoid breaking the DNS for others or fragmenting the system.)

ICANN has now approved three Chinese country-specific domain name sets under its Fast Track approval process, all accessible using Chinese script. Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Mainland China each have their own names, although only Taiwan and Mainland China each have two variations (one in Traditional Chinese, one in Simplified Chinese).

China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC) will administer the ?? and ?? variants, while Hong Kong Internet Registration Corporation Limited manages ?? and the Taiwan Network Information Center gets ?? and ??. Both Simplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese domain names will resolve to the same website.

“This approval is a significant change for Chinese-speaking users around the world,” said Rod Beckstrom, CEO of ICANN. “One-fifth of the world speaks Chinese and that means we’ve just increased the potential online accessibility for around one billion people.

Oh yes, ICANN also approved the long controversial and still controversial .XXX after rejecting the idea in 2007.


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