Milton Mueller, professor at the Syracuse University School of Information Studies (iSchool), was quoted in an article in Computerworld about China’s request for local-language Internet domain names.

Following China’s request, Rod Beckstrom, head of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), announced he will visit China for two days in his first trip to the country since taking his current job last June. Beckstrom’s agenda is expected to include discussions about China’s application to ICANN for the globally supported use of domain names that end in “dot-China,” with the word “China” written in Chinese script.

China is one of over a dozen countries and territories that have applied for the local-language domains since ICANN launched the process late last year. But China’s application was not among the first to pass an initial review by ICANN, which said that four countries, including Russia and Egypt, had completed that step.

China’s censorship of the Internet has drawn international attention since Google said in January that it planned to stop censoring results on its China-based search engine. China has gradually limited online expression for over a year with policies including a ban on individuals in the country registering domain names.

That may not mean China’s application to ICANN, submitted by the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), has hit any political problems. There also may be no direct link between Beckstrom’s visit and China’s Internet crackdown, which authorities say is focused largely on pornography.

Mueller, an expert on Internet governance, told Computerworld that Chinese government crackdowns “are coming from higher levels and CNNIC is as much an object of tighter regulations as, say, Google or the content providers.”

Mueller’s research focuses on the history of communication technologies and global governance institutions. His acclaimed book Ruling the Root: Internet Governance and the Taming of Cyberspace (MIT Press, 2002) was the first scholarly account of the Internet governance debates.  His research has been cited and used by policymakers in the United States, Europe, Hong Kong, and New Zealand.