CHINA / National

MII: Foreign investment in internet services welcomed
Updated: 2006-08-08 06:32

China welcomes qualified foreign companies willing to legally invest in the country's internet services, said an official with the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) here Monday.

The government will offer consultations on concerned policies, said the official who asked to remain anonymous.

According to its commitment to the World Trade Organization, China's value added telecom market has been opened to foreign capitals. Qualified foreign companies can apply for internet operation license following China's regulations.

Five foreign invested companies have so far been granted licenses, the official said.

The ministry tightened regulations for foreign investors operating internet services in China in a circular issued last week which may affect most of the big foreign invested websites in China. Websites they run using rented licenses will be closed.

Domestic telecom companies will not be allowed to lease or sell licenses to foreign investors, the official said.

Five years ago, China issued regulations concerning foreign investors' telecom business operations and most foreign investors followed the procedure, according to the official.

However, some foreign investors continue to improperly offer services using shared or borrowed licenses, or Chinese partners' domain names and trademarks, the official said.

China has 123 million netizens, the world's second biggest internet user population after the United States.

The ministry asked departments concerned to launch checks on websites before November1. Websites which operate with borrowed or rented licenses will have to apply directly for a license of their own.

In February, Google was reported to not have obtained the Internet Content Provider (ICP) licence needed to operate its new China searching engine -- in China.

Chinese regulators investigated the case but have not released their findings.


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