Wikipedia Ban Back On In China

    November 20, 2006

Only one week after the Chinese government released the ban placed on encyclopedia site Wikipedia, the ban appears to be back in effect.

Wikipedia had only regained the ability to reach Chinese viewers with their free encyclopedia site one week ago, however the good news was short-lived. The site has been reportedly blocked in some parts of China again.

Over a year ago the Chinese government placed a ban on both the English and Chinese-language versions of the popular encyclopedia site, Wikipedia, for reasons unbeknownst to even the site’s creator. Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia said “We don’t know what prompted the block and don’t know what prompted the unblock.”

Created in 2001, Wikipedia “has rapidly grown into the largest reference Web site on the Internet”, according to the website’s creators. Wikipedia’s content is free and users around the world can collaborate on different articles. The website itself is a “wiki”, which means that anyone with internet access can correct, edit, or add to any page on the site to improve upon the encyclopedia’s information.

While the Chinese government never made an official statement as to why the site was banned, it was widely speculated to be due to the fact that Chinese citizens could use the site to find information on issues that are sensitive to the Communist government, such as the 1989 incident at Tiananmen Square.

Users and free-speech advocates in China welcomed the release of the ban with open arms, yet feared it to be only temporary because of the government’s strict filtration of informative sites.

“It was great news for us,” said Yuan Mingli, a contributor of articles to the site. “China’s Internet users are not different from other countries’ users. Wikipedia is a very important source of information for us.”

The Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Information did not immediately comment when questioned on the reasoning behind the reinforcement ban, and it is unclear if access to WIkipedia is being denied because of a technical error or because an actual government order.

China’s communist government has attempted to filter information from the Internet deemed anti-government or anarchic since it’s inception.

They have even gone so far as to create a Wikipedia encyclopedia substitute, called Baidupedia, allowing them to rid search results of material that is seen as unfit. Baidupedia is operated by Baidu, China’s most popular search engine.

Chinese Wikipedia users remain uncertain as to whether or not they will regain access to Wikipedia, or if the ban is permanent.

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Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.