Chinese-character domain names to benefit on-line community

0 CommentsPrint E-mail Xinhua, November 9, 2009
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The use of non-Latin characters from start to finish for Internet domain names could see a massive expansion of Internet use and commerce in China, experts predict.

The board of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a nonprofit body that oversees Internet addresses, has allowed the use of non-Latin characters in more than 20 languages, including Chinese.

The China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), which will oversee Chinese-character domain names, will sumbit requests for top-level names with the suffix ".Zhongguo" (China) in all Chinese characters as soon as the ICANN allows non-Latin-character applications from Nov. 16.

Any organizations or individuals in China could apply for a domain names in Chinese characters to 43 domestic website companies authorized by the CNNIC.

Foreign organizations or individuals who want to apply for Chinese-character domain names could apply to the CNNIC's two overseas agents in Singapore and Malaysia.

The annual fee for a domain name in Chinese characters from start to finish would be 280 yuan ($41).

"This represents one small step for ICANN, but one big step for half of mankind who use non-Latin scripts," said Rod Beckstrom, CEO of the ICANN.

Chinese experts said the move would provide more convenient access to the Internet for many elderly Chinese who are unfamiliar with Latin characters, and greatly improve the efficiency of on-line business for Chinese companies and for foreign firms wanting to do business with Chinese customers.

Qian Hualin, chief scientist with the CNNIC, said it would take some time for Chinese companies and organizations to finally acquire addresses entirely in Chinese characters, but companies selling Chinese domain names would have huge market potential.

Domain names in Latin characters, such as for e-mail addresses, were confusing for many Chinese users, said Qian, a key advocator of the Internet domain names in Chinese and a board member of the ICANN.

Many Chinese had particular difficulty distinguishing between the pronunciations of the letters "i" and "r" in English, which often led to mistakes in their daily communication, Qian said.

If they could use domain names in Chinese, there would be no confusion or ambiguity.


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