China rejects worry over web rules, calls it ‘misunderstanding’

Reuters Beijing | Updated on January 20, 2018

China’s technology regulator has rejected criticism of proposed Internet rules that could block access to foreign websites, saying there was misunderstanding about what some people see as a way to tighten control over cyberspace.

Experts have said the draft regulations, like many laws in China, could be interpreted broadly and, in extreme cases, could give authorities the power to shut off access to all websites that have not registered their web addresses in the country.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said, in its proposed revisions to domain name management regulations, that Chinese websites must use domestic domain registration services or risk being cut off in China and facing fines up to 30,000 yuan ($4,600).

“Internet service providers must not provide network access services for domain names connected to the domestic network, but those which are not managed by domestic domain name registration service bodies,” the ministry said in a draft of the rules posted on its website last week.

Ministry stands firm

The ministry told Reuters on Wednesday there was “misunderstanding” about regulations that “did not fundamentally conflict” with global practices.

The rules “do not involve websites that are accessed overseas, do not affect users from accessing the related Internet content and do not affect the normal development of business for overseas companies in China”, it said in an email.

Authorities often issue preliminary laws and regulations for comment though it is not clear if regulators will incorporate public feedback in final drafting. The ministry said it would “earnestly study” feedback.

Some of China’s biggest websites including Alibaba Group’s Taobao and Tmall, Baidu’s search engine,’s shopping site and’s news portal, are registered overseas, according to, which provides information on the registration of websites.

“We are closely examining the draft regulation and will provide appropriate input,” a Baidu spokesman told Reuters.

Alibaba and Sohu declined to comment.

China has long operated the world’s most sophisticated online censorship mechanism, known as the Great Firewall. The websites for Google’s services, Facebook and Twitter are all inaccessible in China.

Under President Xi Jinping, the government has implemented an unprecedented increase in Internet control, and sought to codify the policy within the law.

Published on March 30, 2016

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