The vast majority of top-level domain registries could soon be banned from selling domains into China due to a reported crackdown under a decade-old law.
That’s according to Allegravita, a company that helps registries with their go-to-market strategies in the country.
Allegravita released a report last week claiming that Chinese registrars will be forbidden to sell domains in TLDs that are not on a government-approved list.
The crackdown could come as early as July, the report says:
Foreign registries which have not applied for Chinese market approval are advised to do so in the near term, as unapproved Top-Level Domains are likely to be taken off the market from July this year.
As of April 30, there were only only 14 TLDs on the approved list. All of them are run by Chinese registries and only five do not use Chinese script.
Not on the list: every legacy gTLD, including .com, as well as every ccTLD apart from .cn.
The Draconian move is actually the implementation of regulations introduced by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology over a decade ago but not really enforced since.
As I reported in December, Donuts was facing problems launching its Chinese-script gTLDs due to this red tape.
MIIT announced in 2012 that new gTLD applicants would need licenses to sell into China.
According to Allegrevita, which until recently was working heavily with TLD Registry (“.chinesewebsite”) on its entry into the country, it’s “no longer ambiguous” that MIIT has asserted full oversight of the domain industry in China.
MIIT’s crackdown appears to be focused on the 93 Chinese registrars it has approved to do business.
Allegravita says these companies will not be allowed to sell unapproved TLD domains to Chinese registrants, but that existing registrations will be grandfathered:
by sometime in July 2015, the MIIT will not permit unapproved registries to operate or offer their domains for sale in China. The MIIT will not interfere with existing domain registrations for unapproved registries; however, new registrations will not be permitted to be sold by Chinese registrars to Chinese registrants.
Presumably, non-Chinese registrars will reap the benefits of this as Chinese would-be registrants look elsewhere to buy their domains.
China is an important market for many registries, particularly the low-cost ones.
Judging by MIIT’s web site, getting approval to sell your TLD in China involves a fairly stringent set of requirements, including having a local presence.
MIIT said in a press release last month that the “special action” is designed “to promote the healthy development of the Internet, to protect China’s Internet domain name system safe and reliable operation