Close  

China blocks all language editions of Wikipedia

/ 07:52 PM May 15, 2019
China blocks all language editions of Wikipedia

A visitor stands in front of the stand of online encyclopedia Wikipedia at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 13, 2017 in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany.  AFP

BEIJING, China — Beijing has broadened its block of online encyclopedia Wikipedia to include all language editions, reported an internet censorship research group, ahead of the country’s most politically explosive anniversary.

According to a report by the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), China started blocking all language editions of Wikipedia last month.

ADVERTISEMENT

Previously, most editions of Wikipedia — besides the Chinese language version, which was reportedly blocked in 2015 — were available, OONI said in their report.

AFP could not open any of Wikipedia’s versions in China on Wednesday.

“At the end of the day, the content that really matters is Chinese-language content,” said Charlie Smith, the pseudonym of one of the co-founders of Greatfire.org, which tracks online censorship in China.

“Blocking access to all language versions of Wikipedia for internet users in China is just symbolic,” he told AFP. “It symbolizes the fear that the Chinese authorities have of the truth.”

Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organization that hosts Wikipedia, did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for comment.

ADVERTISEMENT

READ: Happiest countries have high levels of internet freedom — study

China’s online censorship apparatus — dubbed the “Great Firewall” — blocks a large number of foreign sites in the country, such as Google, Facebook and The New York Times.

Topics that are deemed too “sensitive” are also scrubbed, such as the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen pro-democracy protesters which will mark its 30th anniversary on June 4.

The expanded block of Wikipedia comes as Chinese authorities ramp up online controls and crack down on Great Firewall circumvention tools, such as virtual private network (VPN) software, under Chinese President Xi Jinping.

In November, China’s cyberspace authority said it had “cleaned up” 9,800 accounts on Chinese social media platforms like messaging app WeChat and the Twitter-like Weibo that it accused of spreading “politically harmful” information and rumors.

Chinese Twitter users have also told AFP that they have experienced intimidation from local authorities — and even detention — for their tweets.

The latest move to block all versions of Wikipedia could be linked to online translation tools, which make it easy for Chinese users to read anything on Wikipedia, explained Smith.

Images can also be considered taboo, he said.

“A picture is worth a thousand words, and there is no dearth of Tiananmen-related imagery on the Wikipedia website,” Smith added.

Read Next
LATEST STORIES
MOST READ
Don't miss out on the latest news and information.
View comments

Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.

TAGS: China, International news, language, Wikipedia
For feedback, complaints, or inquiries, contact us.



© Copyright 1997-2019 INQUIRER.net | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.