The region has an impressive history in the field of devising IDN technical standards and of implementation. Some of the earliest launches of IDNs at the second level took place in Asia and the Pacific region: Taiwan of China (2000), Japan (2001), China (2002) and Republic of Korea (2003).
Through the longstanding cooperation of domain registries and other technical communities in Asia and the Pacific region, a consensus for the handling of variants was developed in 2000 and further refined over the following decade.
Since 2002, a Joint Engineering Task Force Working Group has worked to coordinate with the Japanese registry and Republic of Korea (which also uses some Chinese-script characters), and has reached a solution which ensures universal resolution. They have made different rules based on language rather than script, which are flexible enough to meet liberal generation rules. For example, in Chinese there is no difference in meaning between traditional and simplified characters (visually similar and semantically identical). In contrast, the Japanese language has different meanings according to whether traditional or simplified characters are used (visually similar but semantically different).
The members of the Working Group believe that their consensus rules are sufficient to handle Chinese-script variants, and are trying to convince ICANN to support variants. ICANN’s current policy is to wait until all the IDN scripts are ready before implementing IDN variants. The ICANN Board resolution on the Variant Issues Project has determined to let all those communities wait for whom IDN variants are relevant.
Originally published in World Report on Internationalised Domain Names, 2013