China Wants Control of the Internet

China has nearly 100 million Internet users, so it’s only natural that the country want a stake in how the Internet is managed. Chinese Ambassador Sha Zukang recently said that China opposes the “monopolization” of the Internet by one state, a reference to the Untied States, which ultimately controls the digital medium.

I think the world is much better off without the Chinese government controlling the Internet, but the government does have one valid point — the Internet still does a fairly poor job of supporting the Chinese language. The domain name system currently only supports Latin characters. There are a few workarounds available, but these aren’t long-term solutions. Ultimately, Unicode will provide the necessary language support, but this too is going to take awhile to be fully implemented.

This will be an interesting story to follow in the years ahead…

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Author: John Yunker

John co-founded Byte Level Research in 2000 and is author of The Web Globalization Report Card. He also co-founder of Ashland Creek Press.

1 thought on “China Wants Control of the Internet”

  1. The headline on this article is too simplistic; it should say “China Wants Full Participation In Drawing Up Internet Standards”.

    The Chinese Ministry of Information Industry (MII) is the main driver of new technology standards in China, and is now trying to push Chinese internally-adopted standards on to international markets. The main rationale for this is that 1)China is a developing country and has a better feel for the needs of other developing countries and 2) to support other Chinese companies which are trying to go global. There is a large element of national pride in driving this, which is reflected in the government’s “go-out” policy, which encourages successful Chinese companies to go global.

    The Chinese have problems with many of the standards which were developed over the past 10 years for the Internet because they feel that, at the time, they were not fully consulted in the drafting of new standards. This is their main complaint against Unicode, and why the Chinese government has not supported it.

    The reality is that governments will play a larger role in managing the Internet. Different countries will use slightly different rationales, but in the end, they will ultimately use the same tools and controls, regardless of their different politics.

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