China’s Great Firewall is a long-time nuisance for western internet companies, and it’s not getting any better.
The Chinese language version of Wikipedia has this week been blocked in mainland China.
The new clampdown adds Wikipedia to the list of over 3,000 websites – including Facebook – currently barred in the eastern nation.
It’s worth noting that the English language version is still available to access, although Wikipedia has been blocked several times before, with the first instance noted in 2004.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales says he will soon travel to Beijing for a government meeting to discuss the censorship, Channel News Asia reports.
“There was a long period of, I would say, equilibrium in which we were broadly accessible in China, all language versions, but certain pages were filtered out,” said Wales, speaking at the Leadership Energy Summit Asia 2015 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
He added: “But more recently we’ve taken a step backwards. As of today, Wikipedia is completely blocked in China again. I will be visiting…to meet with the minister to see what we can do about it.”
The block was spurred on by a technology change in Wikipedia’s encryption that means China’s officials can’t see which specific pages a user is viewing.
“Which means they’re no longer able to filter out certain pages. So they have a choice of all of Wikipedia or none,” Wikipedia’s founder explained.
Wales continued: “We’re going to say you really need to have Wikipedia in your country and you should reconsider this decision. So it’s a little bit tougher diplomacy than what I’ve had to do in the past.”
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The Chinese Wikipedia, run by the Wikimedia Foundation, started in October 2002.
It currently offers around 850,000 articles, handles 485,000 registered users, and ranks as the fourth largest online Chinese encyclopedia.
Interestingly, the majority of edits to the Chinese Wikipedia – around 37.8% – come from Taiwan.
Hong Kong accounts for 27.2% of edits, while just 17.7% are actually sourced in Mainland China. Just over 8% of edits come from the United States and Canada combined.