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Friday, 17 November, 2000, 23:28 GMT
Web address battle looms
China AP
China is seeking to exert control over the internet
By Louisa Lim

A battle for control of the registration of Chinese-language internet addresses is emerging after China issued new regulations which it brings it into conflict with a US service.

The Chinese Government has introduced its own rules, naming a government agency - the China Internet Network Information Centre - as the only authority that can register Chinese language addresses.

But this pits it against the service launched amid great fanfare last week by the international body that authorises website names, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers or Icann.

Web AP
Chinese youth are fuelling the online growth
Analysts say that a showdown looms, following a subsequent Chinese threat to block Chinese-language sites that are not registered on its terms.

It is a serious matter - the Chinese agency received almost half-a-million applications in the first two days alone.

The registration of domain names is a lucrative business, but Beijing-based analyst Duncan Clark says the government's motivations are twofold.

"China is seeking to exert its power in terms of the numbers of people who are coming on to the internet, and we estimate that there are about 20 million online now," he said. "Politically there is another issue about sovereignty.

Laptop advert AP
News websites must be approved by the state
"In China, there is a great deal of sensitivity towards the domination of strategically important areas and I think that this is increasingly being seen as a commanding height - so China's seeking to exert both economic and political control over it."

These regulations follow moves by the Chinese Government last month to impose tighter censorship on Chinese websites.

There are even signs that the red tape could serve to fuel a boom in investment in information technology, as each side pays to discover new ways to impose and circumvent these regulations.

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See also:

07 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
China targets 'enemies' on net
04 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Tough times for China's dot.coms
02 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
China tightens internet controls
09 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
China to battle internet 'enemies'
02 Feb 00 | Asia-Pacific
China cracks down on internet cafes
20 Jan 99 | Asia-Pacific
Prison for China Net dissident
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