Trump Administration Concerned Over China Internet Rules

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By Alexis Kramer

The Trump administration cited concerns over China’s draft rules for registering internet domain names in a report on foreign trade barriers released March 31.

The proposed rules would require internet domain names to be registered through government-licensed, local service providers. The rules, which were introduced in March 2016, had sparked global concern that China sought to block access to all websites with domain names registered outside that country. High-ranking Obama administration officials warned in a May 2016 blog post that the rules, if adopted, would create a barrier to trade by requiring the localization of data.

Although China said that those concerns were based on a misreading of the intent of the rules, “concerns remain with respect to how China intends to implement requirements on registering and using domain names and other Internet resources,” the U.S. Trade Representative said in its 2017 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers. The USTR said it will continue to monitor the rulemaking.

China’s move to enact domain name rules was one of several Chinese practices that the USTR identified as a potential barrier to digital trade. The USTR also cited concerns over China’s practice of “extensive” website blocking, through what is known as the Great Firewall. According to the USTR, China blocks up to 3,000 websites total, including 11 of the top 25 global websites. The agency said the practice affects billions of dollars in business.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping April 6.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alexis Kramer in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at

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