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How can I become the owner of a domain name on the Internet in China?

In China, an individual is not permitted to register a domain name. However, any representative office or branch of a foreign company, a nationally-registered company, or organization is free to register a domain name. The process, from application to registration, is relatively simple. In fact, one can even apply online at the China Internet Network Information Center's(CNNIC) website (

CNNIC is the governmental body in charge of the administration and approval of registration of domain names that end in the top-level name .cn. They require that the applicant be an organization that is legally registered. When applying for a domain name, the applicant must prove this by submitting copies of the business license or other registration certificates. It is required that the server of the domain names registered with CNNIC be hosted in China. The applicant must also provide the names of an administrative contact and a technical contact who will be responsible for the regular day-to-day operations of the server. A week after the application is submitted, the CNNIC should issue a domain name registration license.

When choosing a domain name to register, the first thing one must do is check if it is already registered. This can be performed at the CNNIC website. There are 3 parts in a Chinese domain name. The first section is the last part of the domain name, otherwise referred to as the "top-level" name. In China, the top-level name under the control of CNNIC is .cn. The second section can be a "category domain name" or a "division domain name". The category names can include: .com for industry or commerce enterprises, .net for information centers, .edu for educational institutions, and .org for non-profit organizations. The division domain name refers directly to the geographical area the website is focused on(ie. .bj for Beijing, or .jx for Jiangxi province). The third part of the domain name is the owner's name. The owner's name can virtually be anything, as long as it does not transgress the laws of Article 11 of the Provisional Administrative Rules for Registration of Domain Names on China's Internet. This article forbids the use of: words such as China, Chinese, National(without official approval), well.-known names of other countries or regions, classifications of industries or generic names of foods, previously registered trademarks or names of enterprises plus any other names that are harmful to the interests of the state, society or the public. So, once you satisfy these requirements, you should rush out and register your domain name as the CNNIC accepts registrations on a first-come, first-serve basis. However, do not plan on registering many domain names with the hopes of selling them to interested third parties. Although this is a common practice worldwide, Article 24 states that "registered domain names may be changed or canceled, but are not permitted to be transferred, sold or purchased". This means that if the owner of a domain name no longer wishes to own a domain name, he must cancel it because the sale to a third party is prohibited.

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