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China domain name land grab about to start

'.中国' domain ready to roll as part of ICANN's non-ASCII plan

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Domain names ending with .中国 – the Chinese characters for China – will become available in mid-October and China is gearing up for the rush of expected applications.

The addition of the .中国 top level domain is a result of ICANN's decision to add top level domains that don't use Latin script. When announced last January ICANN argued doing so was simply a fair thing to do.

China has since outlined how the process will work, for two groups of potential users.

One of those groups, owners of .cn domains, have been granted a “privileged upgrade” period from October 15th to October 23rd. Owners of .cn domains can use that period to apply for the addition of a .中国 domain.

Trademark-holders of names using Chinese characters are the other group, and have until October 14th to file proof of trademark ownership with the China Internet Network Information Centre (CINIC) in order to claim domain names in Chinese characters.

The new domain names are bound to attract attention around the world, thanks to China's colossal real-world and online populations. The latter, the Chinese Social Sciences Academic Press reports, according to a Xinhua report, is expected to reach 800 million in 2015. China also claims 415 million instant messaging users, plus the world's largest population of micro-blog users. The latter claim is, however, a little rubbery as China claims 274 million micro-bloggers. Twitter is reputed to have more.

Whatever the true numbers, the arrival of the .中国 top level domain is surely a signal that the English language's dominance of the internet is unlikely to persist. There's no need, however, to figure out just how to coax the characters '中国' out of your keyboard, as addresses typed in the Latin alphabet will continue to reach sites using both .cn and .中国 addresses. ®

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