The China Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has recently awarded licenses to a number of legacy and new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) allowing them to be sold and operated within China. This is in line with a continuing trend towards greater openness to the domain name world on the part of China.

China opened up to greater engagement with the domain name market subsequent to MIIT’s revision last year of its 2004 “Chinese Measures for the Administration of Domain Names.” The rules implemented pursuant to this revision clarified that, in order to host a website in China, the associated domain name must be registered with a registrar in China and imposed fines of CNY 30,000 (approximately EUR 4,000) for violation of this rule. They did not, however, prohibit the ownership of domain names by Chinese nationals registered outside the country.

The new gTLD .XYZ was one of the first to be awarded a license by MIIT in December 2016 and Chinese registrants accounted for one third of all of its domain names even before its accreditation. Other Top Level Domains (TLDs) to have received licenses so far include .CN, .CHINA, .COMPANY, .WEBSITE and .WANG.

Most recently, MIIT awarded licenses to the legacy gTLDs .INFO, .PRO and .MOBI, as well as the new gTLDs .RED and .KIM.

Roland LaPlante, Senior Vice President of Afilias, which runs the .INFO, .PRO, .MOBI, .RED and .KIM TLDs was quoted as saying that “China’s domain name market is already the world’s second biggest, with over 40M registrations” and that “more consumer choice will help it grow faster“.

As well as aiming to give more choice to Chinese domain name owners, registrars are of course keen to tap into the vast Chinese domain name market. Afilias has stated that it believes making its five domain name extensions available to Chinese businesses and other Chinese domain name users will allow Chinese businesses to enhance their global online presence as well as helping them to “compete in today’s marketplace“.

It will be interesting to see whether MIIT will in the future award similar licenses to other Registries and for other TLDs.