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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 11:49 GMT
China opens web to the West
Western businesses are now able to buy a piece of real estate in Chinese cyberspace, opening up a potentially massive new e-commerce market.

Sign to net cafe
As from Sunday, businesses outside China can register .cn domain names for the first time ever.

Registry service NeuStar, which is working with the Chinese authorities to handle the roll out of domains, is expecting huge demand.

China currently has 56.6 million citizens online and analysts expect this to jump by 46% to 86.3 million by the end of the year.

By allowing foreign business to buy up a Chinese domain name, Beijing has removed one of the barriers to Western companies trading

It will allow big e-tailers like Amazon to establish a local presence in a lucrative market.

'Unprecedented opportunity'

The country's e-commerce market is currently valued at $500m per year but it is predicted to expand to $23bn within three years.

China's ever expanding number of surfers are expected to feel greater affinity with .cn brands, even if they are registered overseas.

"With .cn already established in China as a household name, US businesses are being offered an unprecedented opportunity to experience an immediate impact in the China market," said Richard Tindal of NeuLevel, part of NeuStar.

Some businesses may be concerned about setting up a site in a country where the internet is censored and online access is heavily policed.

China maintains a tight rein on the net, seeking to stop its people looking at any material about political freedoms or human rights.

Last year, Beijing blocked search engines Google and Altavista and the content on other sites are actively censored.

It is keeping a close eye on .cn registration to prevent any domain names seen as offensive or anti-Chinese.

NeuStar has said that only one out of 15,000 requests it had received for a .cn domain name had been deemed inappropriate.

The cost of China's web censors
23 Sep 02 |  Business
China's baby steps in e-commerce
24 Sep 02 |  Business
Behind China's internet Red Firewall
03 Sep 02 |  Technology

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