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Evolution of Internet in China
2001-01-01

On September 20, 1987, Professor Qian Tianbai sent China's first E-mail titled "Crossing the Great Wall to Join the World," marking the beginning of the use of Internet by Chinese. Professor Qian was in charge of the Internet project of CANET (Chinese Academic Network), a scientific research project launched by the Beijing Municipal Computer Application Research Institute in 1986 in cooperation with Karlsruhe University of former Western Germany. The mail sent by Professor Qian at a speed of 300bps officially realized the store-and-forward function.

In December of 1988, Qinghua University's campus network was linked to Canada's University of British Columbia (UBC) through X.25 network and started the E-mail application with the X400 protocol E-mail software packet introduced by Professor Hu Daoyuan from UBC.

In 1988, the Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) realized its DECnet extension of the central DECnet in Western Europe with the X.25 protocol. It thus realized the long-distance international computer networking and E-mail communications with the European and North American regions.

In May of 1989, the Chinese Research Network (CRN) was connected to the German Research Network through the pilot X.25 net built by the former Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. CRN could provide such services as E-mail, file transmission and catalog, and access Internet through the gateway of Germany's DFN.

In April of 1990, a pilot network of education and scientific research (NCFC) for the Zhongguancun area was initiated with the World Bank loans. Jointly managed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), Beijing University and the Qinghua University, the project was designed to build a high-speed interconnected network among these three units and a super-computing center as well.

In October of 1990, on behalf of China, Professor Qian Tianbai officially registered China's top domain name as CN in DDN-NIC, the former international Internet information center. As a network center of ARPANET under the United States' Department of Defense, DDN-NIC was in charge of distributing Internet domain names and IP addresses worldwide then. Since then the international E-mail communication service with CN as the top domain name has been available, thus filling China's vacancy in Internet.

In 1992, the academy network of CAS and campus networks of Beijing University and Qinghua University were completed as part of the NCFC project.

On March 2, 1993, a 64K dedicated circuit to the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) was opened officially. Built by the Institute of High-Energy Physics under CAS, the dedicated circuit was linked to the United States through an international satellite communication channel rented from AT&T. But it was only allowed to connect the American energy network, because the U.S. government forbade any socialist countries to access Internet that contained plenty of science and technology information and other resources. Nonetheless, it was still China's first dedicated circuit partly accessing Internet. After being opened, the circuit received a 300,000-yuan investment from the Chinese State Fund Commission. It brought all the scientists in charge of key topics in various subjects to the dedicated circuit and enabled several hundred scientists to use E-mail in China.

In June of 1993, experts of NCFC reiterated China's demand to be linked to Internet at the '93 INET Conference and won the support of most participants after discussing the issue with the international Internet experts. The conference gave a boost to China's final access to Internet.
In early April of 1994, the Sino-American Federation of Scientific and Technological Cooperation met in Washington with delegations of the Chinese and the United States governments. At the meeting, Hu Qihuan, the academician and vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, on behalf of the Chinese Government, appealed for linking to Internet, to the National Science Fund (NSF) of the United States. The appeal was accepted.

On April 20, 1994, the NCFC project opened a 64K international dedicated circuit to Internet through Sprint Co. of the United States, realizing a full-function linkage to Internet. Since then China has been officially recognized as a country accessible to Internet. It was chosen as one of China's top 10 scientific and technological events in 1994 by the Chinese press community and designated as one of China's key scientific and technological findings in 1994 by the State Statistical Bulletin.

On May 15, 1994, the High-Energy Physics Research Institute under CAS set up China's first web server and introduced the country's first set of web pages. Apart from briefing on the development of high technology in China, the web pages also opened a column called Tour in China, which, renamed Windows of China later, provided a wider range of information in both text and picture, about news, business, culture and trade.

On May 21, 1994, with the help of Professor Qian Tianbai and Germany's Karlsruhe University, the computer network information center under CAS installed China's top domain name (CN) servers, thus ending the location abroad of CN servers for such names.

In September of 1994, China Telecom and Brown, the then U.S. Secretary of Commerce, signed a Sino-American Internet agreement. Under the agreement, China Telecom would open two 64K dedicated circuits in Beijing and Shanghai, respectively, through Sprint Co. of the United States. As a result, work on China's Internet, the Chinanet, started.

In October of 1994,work on the China Education and Research Network (CERNET) started. Invested by the State Planning Commission and operated by the State Education Commission, the project was intended to build a basic facility for the national education and research, and link most colleges, universities and middle schools in the country, by means of advanced computer and network communication technology. The move was designed to promote construction of campus networks and the exchange and sharing of information resources among these educational establishments.

In January of 1995, China Telecom opened two 64K dedicated circuits to the United States through Sprint Co. in Beijing and Shanghai. It also started to provide Internet access service through telephone network, DDN dedicated circuit and X.25 network.
In March of 1995, CAS completed the long-distance linkage of its branches in Shanghai, Hefei, Wuhan and Nanjing with IP/X.25 technology. This marked the first step taken by China to extend Internet nationwide.

In May of 1995, China Telecom started to prepare for building a national backbone network for Chinanet.

On August 8, 1995, the Shuimu Qinghua BBS built in the China Education and Research Network (CERNET) went into operation. It is the first Internet-based BBS in China's mainland.
On February 11, 1996, the State Council promulgated the No.195 Decree, i.e., the Provisional Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Managing the Computer Internet Information Network.

On September 6, 1996, the China Golden Bridge Network (ChinaGBN) opened a 256K dedicated circuit connected to the United States. ChinaGBN also announced the decision to provide Internet access service, mainly for institutional users through dedicated circuits and individual users through telephone lines.

In December of 1996, work on the China Public Multimedia Communication Network, known as Net 169, was launched in an all-round way. The country's first group of web sites including Guangdong Shilingtong, Tianfu Hotline and Shanghai Online opened.

On May 20, 1997, the State Council promulgated the State Council's Decision on Revising the Provisional Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Managing Computer Internet Information Network.

On June 3, 1997, entrusted by the State Council's Office for Information Promotion Leading Group, CAS set up the China National Network Information Center (CNNIC) in its computer network information center to act as the state Internet information center. On the same day, the CNNIC work committee was set up.

In November of 1997, CNNIC issued its first Statistic Report on Internet Development in China. According to the report, by October 31, 1997, China had more than 290,000 PCs connected to Internet and 620,000 Internet users, 4,066 registered domain names of CN, 1,500 WWW web sites and 18.64Mbps of bandwidth for international outlets.

In 1997, Chinanet was interconnected to the country's other three Internet networks, namely, the China Science Network, the China Education and Research Network and China Golden Bridge Network.

In July 1998, CNNIC issued the second Statistic Report on Internet Development in China. According to the report, by June 30, 1998, China had more than 542,000 PCs linked to Internet and 1,175,000 Internet users, 9,415 registered domain names of CN, 3,700 WWW web sites and 84.64Mbps of bandwidth for international outlets.

In January of 1999, CNNIC issued the third Statistic Report on the Development of Internet in China. According to the report, by December 31, 1998, China had more than 747,000 PCs linked to Internet and 2.1 million Internet users, 18,396 registered domain names of CN, 5,300 WWW web sites and 143M256K of bandwidth for international outlets.

In July of 1999, CNNIC issued the fourth Statistic Report on the Development of Internet in China. According to the report, by June 30, 1999, China had more than 1.47 million PCs connected to Internet and 4 million Internet users, 29,045 registered domain names of CN, 9,906 WWW web sites and 241M of bandwidth for international outlets.

In October of 1999, the Ministry of the Information Industry cut charges on Internet service. Existing charges on network occupation of dial-up users and different charges on calls in different periods were cancelled. The network occupation fee was set at four yuan per hour, and call fee reduced by half. Meanwhile, the network occupation fee of dedicated circuit users was cut by 45% on average.

On December 30, 1999, 36 leading domestic Internet web sites proposed in Beijing that China's media web sites and commercial web sites should join hands in promoting the development of the country's network information communication course in the coming new century.

On January 6, 2000, the Tongyuan Tibet Web site, China's first minority ethnic web site, opened on the platform of Western Space, a node in northwestern China's Gansu Province, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

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