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The problem with selling .org domains to Chinese entities

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Have a .org domain targeted to the Chinese market? Read on.

Do you own .org domains intended for Chinese buyers, such as Pinyin domains? If so, you should be aware of restrictions and trends that make aftermarket sales unlikely.

The chart below indicates the total number of .org domains registered in China over the last 15 years, according to China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC). You can see a consistent decline in recent years, which fell to 146,000 domains in 2020. This number is really tiny when compared with the 19 million .cn domains registered in the same year.

Chart showing decline in .org domains in China

There are several reasons this might be the case.

First, website users in China need a license, and the government doesn’t issue licenses for .org domains.

If you visit Aliyun (Alibaba subsidiary), the largest domain registrar in China, you may find the following notice on its .org domain registration page.


The notice says that you can register your desired .org domain, but currently, you can’t apply for an ICP license to build and operate a website on the domain in China.

Obviously, this means registrars in China don’t push/promote .org domains heavily, and Chinese businesses and non-profits will steer clear of these domains.

Second, it isn’t easy to become a non-profit organization in China. As I have said earlier in another article, in recent years, the Chinese government has been very strict in confirming non-profit organization status. While .org is open to any type of registrant, it is a preferred extension for non-profits.

Finally, .org registry Public Interest Registry began focusing on quality over quantity of registrations a few years ago, so cheap promos for domain investors are out.

These issues, primarily the ICP issue, mean that .org domains held for sale specifically for the Chinese market are probably an unwise investment.

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