What's going on in China? After taking everyone totally by surprise when they closed .CN to individuals on December 14, 2009, the Chinese authorities then went one step further and announced that, starting January 6, 2010, non-Chinese registrars would be barred from registering new names.
What brought this on? The new rules are a complete turnaround in policy from the laissez-faire attitude exhibited by the Chinese government and enacted by the national registry CNNIC ever since .CN was opened up as a top level domain on March 17, 2003. From that point on (previously the Chinese namespace was only open at the 3rd level, e.g. .COM.CN), China has seemingly had but one goal: amass as many .CN registrations as possible. And when the 14th million .CN domain was registered during 2009, the Chinese TLD became the world's most prolific country code.
Then came chaos. China claims the new ultra-restrictive registration rules are to limit the "authenticity, accuracy, and integrity" of its namespace. Chinese netizens have even been encouraged by the authorities to report offending websites and the domain names behind them.
However the new rules look more like a kneejerk reaction than anything carefully planned. After China's initial announcement, no-one at CNNIC or elsewhere seemed to know exactly who could register what. Not a day has gone by since during which accredited .CN registrars like INDOM haven't heard contradictory reports of what they can and can't do.
Last week, it finally seemed clear that only registered entities such as companies would now be eligible for a .CN domain and that foreign registrars could no longer register new names but could continue to manage their existing names.
Then, just as the dust finally seemed to be settling, I chanced upon this little gem. It would now seem that CNNIC has reversed the rules and will allow individuals to register domains after all. (Although INDOM's registry liaison team has been unable to confirm this and no official announcement has been made by CNNIC). "If we stop individuals obtaining domain names, they will register abroad or fake themselves as company applicants anyway," a director at CNNIC is quoted as saying, as if no-one could have thought of that 3 weeks ago…