CHINA GOVERNMENT UNBLOCKS ACCESS TO WIKIPEDIA'S ENGLISH-LANGUAGE VERSION
(Oct. 13, 2006)
The blocking of access to the online encyclopaedia Wikipedia put in place by the Chinese authorities in October 2005 was partially lifted on 10 October, Reporters Without Borders said today. The English-language version is now entirely accessible including sensitive content normally censored in China, but the Chinese-language version is still blocked.
The press freedom organisation took the opportunity to hail the courage of the people in charge of Wikipedia who - unlike Google, Yahoo ! and MSN - have always refused to yield to the Chinese government's censorship requests.
"We are now waiting for the unblocking of Wikipedia's Chinese version, which is obviously the one that people most want to consult in China," Reporters Without Borders said. "Unblocking just the English-language content is a hypocritical move. The government hopes thereby to appease its critics abroad while continuing to censor the information available to its own population."
The organisation added: "We congratulate those in charge of Wikipedia, especially Jimmy Wales, who could have chosen to censor their own site to get official blessing. Instead they stuck to their principles and spurned self-censorship. Their determination has paid off inasmuch as Beijing has partially reversed its decision. It is an example that other Internet giants could follow."
Tests conducted by Reporters Without Borders showed that Wikipedia's English-language version was entirely unblocked, including its articles on sensitive subjects such as the Tiananmen Square events of 1989, but the Chinese-language version (http://zh.wikinews.org) is inaccessible for most people inside China.
Nonetheless, the filtering does not appear to be totally effective as people in some parts of the country such as Shanghai are managing to connect. The fact that the "Great Firewall of China" is currently being upgraded may explain the lack of homogeneity seen in the system in the past few days.
Wikipedia's content is written, rewritten and edited by its own online users. It is currently the world's 17th most visited website.
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