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I thought I had a good handle on international DNS, which is only even slightly tricky with a handful of differently-regulated countries' TLD's, but .中国 is throwing me for a loop.

A Chinese friend asked me to register a Chinese domain name for him and setup a website. Unfortunately the .cn version was already taken, so I "cleverly" suggested .中国 .

After purchasing the domain (http://会学网.中国/) from my go-to provider of .cn domains, set their DNS panel to temporarily point to a URL for a US-hosted sandbox domain/installation.

The .中国 DNS host indicates that the domain name is active and redirecting to the sandbox domain/hosting, but I can't get it to resolve.

  • Is this because of some regional settings in my browser?
  • or do you need a special Chinese DNS server added to resolve it?
  • or am I blocked by "the Great Firewall of China"?

I have tried to answer my own question by using some services like https://isitup.org/ and trying to resolve other .中国 sites.

Unfortunately, isitup.org says:

We need a valid domain to check! Try again.

My browser says the following when I try to visit the site:

Bad Request (Invalid Hostname)

I would just transfer the domain to my main America provider, but they don't support this TLD and I believe my friend would eventually prefer to have it hosted in China anyway, to optimize the speed for Chinese users (which is why this re-direct is only temporary, for development).


After @w3d 's very useful observations I've been able to rule out a lot of problems, but I'm still having trouble. Perhaps there's something wrong in the DNS panel's URL redirect settings?

DNS panel

I also tried filling out the next line under the www subdomain the same was as the first. It still says "bad hostname".

  • FWIW that domain (at least the punycode equivalent) appears to resolve OK for me. The OpenDNS cache is also OK in the most part except for "Copenhagen, Denmark" and "Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa" - maybe it's just a timing issue? Has the domain propagated fully? – MrWhite Oct 30 '15 at 12:33
  • (In fact, isitup.org also returns success for me? You do, however, need to omit the protocol and trailing slash if pasting the unicode for this tool to work properly.) – MrWhite Oct 30 '15 at 12:49
  • However, I do get a 400 Bad Request (Invalid Hostname) returned (from your server)? – MrWhite Oct 30 '15 at 12:55
  • @w3d OK, yes, I also see good results from OpenDNS cache and isitup.org (!). The tailing / was indeed the problem there. However I still get that Bad Request (Invalid Hostname) message when I go to the site. I will try directing it to some .com as soon as I have the opportunity. – Hack-R Oct 30 '15 at 15:04
  • @w3d Sorry for the long delay; I was at work. Could you have a look at the updated post and let me know if I'm doing something wrong in the DNS panel settings? – Hack-R Oct 30 '15 at 22:54
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While modern browsers do support international characters in domain names, there may be many other tools that don't support them.

International characters in domain names are handled by having an ASCII representation of the domain name available for legacy programs. The ASCII version is in PunyCode. Your Chinese domain name http://会学网.中国/ con be viewed as an ASCII domain name by using a PunyCode converter:

http://xn--6oqr31af61a.xn--fiqs8s/

When a tool doesn't recognize the Chinese characters in your domain name, you can plug that ugly ASCII version into the tool to get the tool to work.

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When you buy a domain, configure the DNS settings, and check your browser and see the Invalid Hostname error that is frequently due to propagation errors. While the DNS zone file itself can be updated and globally showing the changes within a few hours (based on the TTL setting) when a domain nae is first registered it takes up to 48 hours for the new domain name to be propagated to all root name servers and registry records. Until that propagation is completed as far as your web browser is concerned the domain does not exist so it won't even try checking DNS records. Once the propagation has finished then you can test and see if it is working.

The easiest way to check DNS propagation is to use www.whatsmydns.net which not only lets you see if your domain name itself has finished propagating but also lets you check at the same time if the DNS zone file records are updated everywhere and showing the correct IP address in all the networks tested which is currently 21 separate locations and networks in around a dozen different countries.

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