Beijing residents of approved TLDs can now get a license to use them.
Getting approval for registrants to use and host content on new top level domain names in China can be a complicated process for registries. First, they need to get approval from Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). But it doesn’t stop there. The regional communications departments also have to begin allowing registrants who live in their provinces to apply for Internet Content Provider licenses (or ICP) for their individual domains.
An ICP is a number that ties a website to an individual (usually the registrant). This number allows the Chinese government to know who is responsible for the content on a website and hold them accountable for it. Without an ICP license, it is illegal to host a website using a given domain inside of China, and the individual can get into very serious trouble with the Public Security Bureau.
Until just recently, people who live in Beijing were unable to get an ICP for sites hosted on the approved new top level domains, even if the TLD was approved by MIIT. Last week, the Beijing Communications Administration started issuing ICPs, which means that these domains (such as .VIP and .Club) can finally be put to use by residents of Beijing.
Beijing was the largest holdout of regional/city groups for issuing ICPs (most other developed provinces and municipalities were already allowing registrants to get ICPs for their websites).
It will be interesting to see if this boosts development of new TLDs registered to people in Beijing, which is home to the largest online business sector in China.
(Hat tip to Simon Cousins of Allegravita for his help understanding this latest development.)