China Tech News's story "CNNIC: China's Internet Will Be Short Of IP Addresses Soon" is the practically perfect 21st century story about China and all that makes the rest of the world anxious about it. It is one of those stories about the obliterating scale (real or perceived) of Mighty China, the imagination-boggling numbers that give China a middle class that is larger than the entire population of the US; that give China more English speakers (more or less) than any other country on earth, and so on. It's the epitome of stories about Chinese hunger for commodities leading to spikes in worldwide scrap prices and a global pandemic of sewer-cover thefts. It pokes at the western fear that the Chinese billions will demand refrigerators, cars, 24-hour electricity, and swamp the carefully restored ozone, the dwindling petrol reserves, the failing climate.
Except, of course, that IP addresses are nothing like oil, ozone, middle-classes or Anglophones. They're divisible. Just add NAT routers and turn every single IP into 255, and then turn all of those into more. It screws up Skype and messes with your ping-times, but sysadmins have been intelligently stretching their IPs for decades.
What's more, the real story here is that the Politburo is ramping up to order a switch to IPv6, the more modern successor to IPv4, with plenty of addresses to go around, about to accomplish by sheer force of will a demolition of legacy network stacks and a switchover to v6, a trick that network administrators have been trying to coax their users into for, well, decades.
It's interesting how a Party press-release intended to send sysadmins scurrying ends up, in the west, reading like a parable of Unstoppable Pac-China, Devourer of the Planet's Power-Pills.
The Internet in China may soon run out. According to the China Internet Network Information Center, under the current allocation speed, China's IPv4 address resources can only meet the demand of 830 more days and if no proper measures are taken by then, new Chinese netizens will not be able to gain normal access to the Internet.
Li Kai, director in charge of the IP business for CNNIC's international department, says that if a netizen wants to get access to the Internet, an IP address will be necessary to analyze the domain name and view the pages. At present, most of the networks in China use IPv4 addresses. As a basic resource for the Internet, the IPv4 addresses are limited and 80% of the final allocation IP addresses have been used. By the current allocation speed, China's IPv4 address resource can only meet the demand of 830 more days. If there is no available new resource by then, new netizens will not be able to gain normal access to the Internet and the business expansion of network operators will be impossible.