Inaccurate report sparks fears China may split Internet

Western media was abuzz Wednesday with reports, citing anEnglish-language story on the Web site of the official People’sDaily newspaper, that China plans to create a set ofChinese-language domain names as part of a bid to split China offfrom the Internet. There was just one problem: the story wasn’ttrue.

The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) has had asystem of three Chinese-character domain names in place since 2002.The domain names, which appear to be top-level domain names,actually operate under the .cn top-level domain name, which is alsoadministered by CNNIC and is part of the domain-name system (DNS)managed by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers(ICANN).

A CNNIC spokeswoman Wednesday confirmed that there are no newadditions to the available Chinese-character domain names and saidno major changes are planned for how China administers theInternet. “We have no intention to create a new root server orsplit off from the Internet,” she said.

Tina Dam, ICANN’s chief generic top-level domain registry liaison,also sought to set the record straight Wednesday, saying thePeople’s Daily report may have resulted from a misunderstanding ofwork already in progress that involves second-level domains, suchas the Chinese-character domain names already in use inChina.

The People’s Daily report covered a brief announcement postedonline by China’s Ministry of Information Industry (MII) on Feb.24. That announcement, entitled “MII announcement regardingadjustments to the Chinese domain name system,” heralded thecreation of a .mil second-level domain under .cn.

The MII announcement was accompanied by the revised regulationsoutlining the Chinese domain name system, including details of thethree previously announced Chinese-character domain names. Therevised regulations took effect on March 1.

Although the People’s Daily report mentioned these details, itmistakenly described the existing Chinese-character domain names asbeing outside the Internet domain-name system managed by ICANN.

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