Wikipedia Inaccessible in China
June 14, 2004
According to several Internet reports both the Chinese and English-language versions of Wikipedia have now been blocked and are inaccessible from the Chinese mainland.
Chinese Wikipedia was the Chinese-language offshoot of Wikipedia, an online English-language encyclopedia run by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation--a 'wiki', a term that is derived from the Hawaiian word for "quick" and used to describe Web sites that can be edited by any reader, including anonymous visitors.
At the time of writing, both http://www.wikipedia.org and its Chinese version http://zh.wikipedia.org are inaccessible, and the Wikimedia Foundation has yet to comment on the reports.
Lauded by Beijing as a necessary tool to raise the moral values of the Chinese people, the government has recently launched a campaign to clear violence and sexual content from the media, and comes during several politically sensitive events and anniversaries that have seen an increase in online censorship. Wikipedia is just one of the sites that seems to have been affected.
A recent article by Sumner Lemon, writing for IDG News Service, reported that an informal group of Chinese volunteers were building an online encyclopedia called Chinese Wikipedia to create a free source of information for Chinese Internet users, and Lemon expressed surprise that, in light of the government's recent crackdown on Internet content, the site was being allowed to exist. It would appear that this is no longer the case.
The wiki format is designed to allow any visitor to modify any of the pages in the encyclopedia by adding, changing, or deleting information, leaving the site open to the mass posting of content that the Chinese government would possibly deem 'incorrect'.