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China Prepares to Launch Alternate Internet 510

Netfree writes "The Chinese government has announced plans to launch an alternate Internet root system with new Chinese character domains for dot-com and dot-net. This may mean that Chinese Internet users will no longer rely on ICANN, the U.S.-backed domain name administrator, and, as one commentator notes, could be the beginning of the end of the globally interoperable Internet."
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China Prepares to Launch Alternate Internet

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  • by TripMaster Monkey ( 862126 ) * on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:11PM (#14817794)

    Given the intransigence the U.S. has displayed in the past regarding control of TLDs, this move isn't all that surprising. It is somewhat surprising, however, that China has chosen .com and .net as two of their TLDs, virtually guaranteeing operability problems with the rest of the Internet. While this manufactured difficulty is obviously by design, the motive remains unclear. Do the Chinese wish to:

    • create their own internet, by design incompatible with the rest of the world,
    • cause as much trouble as possible for the 'other' internet, or
    • a combination of the two?

    One thing is for administrators will have an interesting time trying to reconcile the conflicting TLDs .com and .net. Perhaps the fact that the Chinese TLDs are in the Chinese character set can be used to some effect, but I'm not certain.

    Wha I am certain of is this: when I'm in charge, we'll have none of this 'multiple language' crap. Everyone will speak Esperanto [], or else.
  • Or.... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tdeuces ( 957421 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:12PM (#14817824) Homepage
    "As one commentator notes, could be the beginning of the end of the globally interoperable Internet".

    Or it could mean the rest of the world will continue to be interoperable while China becomes even more isolated.
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:33PM (#14818068) Journal
    This doesn't end the globally interoperable Internet - as long as IP packets go end-to-end, it's still just fine. Depending on exactly how they've implemented this, it may be cleanly interoperable with the rest of DNS (except that the Global Roots have to get around to including China's extra CC_TLDs), or it may be interoperable for anybody using a compatible Chinese character-set handler client (which shouldn't be a big problem, since the reason for Chinese-Character CCTLDs is to include Chinese-character content). On the other hand, it could be implemented in a way that horribly breaks any 7-bit-ASCII DNS client. It shouldn't do that - DNS is hierarchical, so the worst it should do is botch lookups to the section because the DNS server's responding in Unicode and the client doesn't understand them.
  • by glenrm ( 640773 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @01:51PM (#14818295) Homepage Journal
    Will western companies continue to outsource to China if the country puts up too many obstacles to free communication?
    Not if it changes the economic to a great degree. Not only that but what if I can't find your company in the first place, let us say that I search Google for custom manufacturing and I only find places in Japan, the US, and India, but not China. Big problem. The government in China must ride the Tiger, if they stop it will attack them...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @02:12PM (#14818559)
    I believe this story contains the highest number of absolutely retarded responses I've ever seen on Slashdot.

    China is creating their own *root servers*. At a fundamental level, this affects name to IP address translation *only*. Furthermore, in order to do any communication with the rest of the world at all, China's network must remain interoperable with IPv4/v6. There is no technical limitation from anyone in China setting their root nameserver hints file to the normal root servers located around Asia-Pacific, Europe, or the Americas.

    The second dingaling response I've seen is that "the US controls teh intarweb!" Please. Anyone that suggests this should go have the rest of their lobotomy completed. ICANN *only* controls which TLDs are available and nominally supports the root nameservers *for the Americas only*. There are technical alternatives avilable if ICANN ever gets too far out of line.
  • by MonkeyOfRage ( 779297 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @02:26PM (#14818707)
    Given the intransigence the U.S. has displayed in the past regarding control of TLDs, this move isn't all that surprising.

    In principle, there isn't anything wrong with countries controlling their own TLD's. Why not? Shouldn't they have control over them? Why should they be in the hands of a private organization under the thumb of the U.S. Congress? But when I consider the likely outcomes of doing this in practice, it starts to look a little different.

    Right now anyone in the world can lay out $10 and own a domain name. Anyone anywhere in the world. What happens when, say, Yemen comes into control of .ye? This is a country that routinely shuts down newspapers and jails editors that print things the ruling regime doesn't like. I don't think for an instant that they wouldn't use TLD control to do the same on the internet, and probably with even greater regularity. After all, it's easier to tap a few keys than to send police to take over a building.

    There are a number of countries where I don't think you'd ever notice a difference if control over their TLD's were passed to them. There are quite a few more where you would. How many places do you imagine the process of domain aquisition would be only open to people and businesses friendly to the ruling regime? Is that a desirable scenario? I ask because in a lot of places, it's a likely one; is that a worthwhile trade for getting your TLD's under the authority of someone besides ICANN?

    Wouldn't it be great if you needed to be government licenced to own a domain name? How about if the pathway to domain ownership was strewn with requisite bribes, as government functions are in many countries? Honestly, it doesn't sound so hot to me, but it will be a new reality in a number of countries. I don't think there's even a question of it. Wouldn't people in Zimbabwe be happy to wind up paying $500 or more for what costs $10 today for the satisfaction of knowing that their name wasn't provided through the auspices of ICANN? Probably not. But at least the intransigent U.S. will have finally capitulated. Victory at last!

    Providing yet another outlet for institutionalized corruption is the least problem, though. The bigger problem is that, while many countries have liberal societies where the free exchange of ideas is practically an unquestioned fact of life, there are even more where the free exchange of ideas is considered a menace by the government - China's just the biggest, nowhere near the only. Iran, Cuba, Saudi Arabia, and France have also all taken an active interest in establishing a controlling stake in internet governance. These are all regimes known to kill information that they don't want public - you don't believe that they wouldn't welcome gleefully the opportunity to have direct control over their own TLD's, do you? You don't wonder for the span of a heartbeat why they would, right?

    I maintain that uncontrolled information flow is your only hope of knowing the world beyond the reach of your own five senses. Trying to know reality by anything less than an uncontrolled flow makes you an extension of the biases of whoever controls your information. Internalize that; regimes like North Korea know it very well. TLD control provides a means of information control to people who'd very much like to control it, and I don't want them to. Uncontrollable information is the best thing to happen to the world in the last 50 years.

    Oh, but it's ICANN! The horror.

    And what, exactly, are the disadvantages of keeping the current arrangement? What might any given country improve by having control over their TLD? What has been detrimental about ICANN's oversignt? I've heard lots of peevish griping about TLD control, but I'm still waiting for a reasonable answer to one of these questions. Congress hasn't once used their authority to interfere with ICANN, and TLD's continue to be freely and cheaply available to everyone in
  • Maybe I'm missing something... I thought I had a pretty firm grasp on how DNS works.

    If China creates it's own ROOT servers, which contain forwarding information for the .{chinese-character-for-com} namespace, and another forwarder for .com (in english) namespace, aren't we talking about two distinct and seperate namespaces?

    How does this break anything? It doesn't as far as I'm concerned. Someone tell me different, and if I get a bunch of doublespeak, I'll just call Cricket. (I'm dead serious.)

    Perhaps more importantly, if the Chinese decided to sever their connectivity to the outside world (and with the Great Firewall, they've had that ability all along), how does this hurt the rest of the world?

    China is a manufacturer, and an exporter. Insulating themselves from the global buyers hurts them, not us. We'll just have to get our paper drink umbrellas (and other cheaply made consumable crap) from someplace else. Wal-mart will be harmed a little while they forge new relationships with Taiwan, the Phillipines, Korea, and Maylasia... Barely a blip on the radar.

  • by code65536 ( 302481 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @03:31PM (#14819470) Homepage Journal
    I read both links, and I have to say that it's very cryptic. I think something got lost in the translation, but here is what *I* think they were saying...

    They are creating new TLDs to supplement .com and .net. The new TLDs will be composed of Chinese characters, so instead of, you'll have blah.[X][X] where [X] represents a Chinese character. If this is all that they are doing--creating new non-ASCII TLDs--then there wouldn't be much in the way of conflict with the existing .com and .net structure.

    But as I said, the language is confusing at best and I'm not sure if this is what they are really intending.
  • by Elixon ( 832904 ) on Tuesday February 28, 2006 @07:11PM (#14822107) Homepage Journal
    "We'll just have to get our paper drink umbrellas (and other cheaply made consumable crap) from someplace else. Wal-mart will be harmed a little while they forge new relationships with Taiwan, the Philippines, Korea, and Malaysia..."

    I'm afraid that your paper drink umbrellas may cost twice as much because Taiwan and Philippines will double the prices because of the increased demand... I'm afraid that you will need to pay twice as much for your Nike shoes, ThinkPad, mobile phone, t-shirts, pants, slippers, watches... and I think that even your new car "made in USA" will be twice as expensive because all the technology (and other inputs) used for the car production costs twice as much... and... and... ("twice as much" is just exaggeration ;-)

    Maybe it will end up that Americans will find out that it is cheaper to produce paper drink umbrellas (and other cheaply made consumable crap) in USA and you will have a chance to be employed (if yes, you will be the other lucky half that have a job in USA).

    My advice is that you should maybe buy extra paper umbrellas ASAP and have a nice evening with your friends while discussing the "globalization" phenomena and interconnection of global economy where nobody can stay aside and simply watch while having paper drink umbrellas...

    Believe me, I wish you the wealth for the rest of your life... because it will be a sign that the global economy is stable - for me and for you. The Black Thursday crash of the Exchange was reflected in Europe a years later... Believe me, you will personally feel any global instability or tension just in hours or days when it happens - this is the drawback of the communication speed...

    Sure, this will (hopefully) never happen. Let's hope that this is a sci-fi. I didn't study the economy but I'm sure the opinion that there is always other "cheap labor" waiting to work for less money and that USA can stay safely aside by simply switching the trade routes from China to Malaysia, it is really... hmm, not wise.

    I'm not fighting against USA or China; I simply think that we are on the same boat. If China goes down so the USA and Europe... But I'm sure, that this time it is not the case :-) I think that this conflict will be "solved" to satisfy all and it will teach us that China, USA and anybody else have the right to preserve maximum sovereignty while keeping the global stability because the boat becoming to be too small and unstable.

  • Re:Imperialism (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Analogue Kid ( 54269 ) on Thursday March 02, 2006 @02:11AM (#14833003) Homepage
    There is no technological reason
    Chinese (and other languages) cannot be used in URLs, including TLDs. Unfortuantely, ICANN doesn't really see offering the internet to non-Latin character set languages as important. ICANN only gave China, .cn. The US on the other hand has .com, .net, .org, .mil, .edu, .gov, etc...

    Another problem is that ICANN gave the majority of the IPV4 addresses to the US. Huge countries such as China were left with nearly nothing. When given only one TLD, allotted only a small fraction of the IP addresses that the US gets, and being forced to write URLs in a foreign language, it's only natural that China would design a more rational replacement.

    Regardless of what language was used for ARPANET, there is no good reason not to support all major languages now.

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