Some domain name registrars outside of China have started to offer .CN domains to their members for pre-registrations.
China’s Ministry of Information Industry made the decision to open up URLs with .cn extensions to individuals and businesses located outside of China in the fall of 2002. The move came as part of relaxing trade regulations after China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in December 2001.
Although figures vary, most research firms estimate that over 55 million of China’s total 1.2 billion population use the Internet. According to Nielsen / NetRatings, China has the second largest Internet user population in the world with staggering growth over the past three years. By 2004, China is predicted to account for more than a quarter of the world’s total Internet population.
From now until March 16, registars like Baltimore, Md.-based BulkRegister or DomainPeople.com of Canada have begun to offer pre-registration to their members. After March 16, registars will be able to sell all .CN domains to the general public, which have until now only been available to residents of China.
However, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) — the body governing the .cn registry — has stipulated that there will be no advance registration for trademark holders similar to launches for other domains such as .info, .biz and .us.
The launch of .CN is on a first-come, first-served basis and is expected to draw a significant amount of interest from businesses looking to target China’s Internet users.
“The registration of second level .CN domains represents a tremendous opportunity for businesses eager to tap into millions of Chinese consumers,” said BulkRegister CEO Thomas Cunningham. “This previously unavailable opportunity helps businesses protect their international brand identity and enables them to establish a strong foothold in the rapidly expanding and virtually untouched Chinese marketplace.”
“Pre-registration is a free service and there are no restrictions on who can apply for a ‘.cn’ domain name, which is China’s official country domain,” said Chris Kruk, Business Area Manager for DomainPeople.
Third-level domains (i.e. .com.cn, .org.cn and .net.cn) have been available for some time.