TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Wikipedia Gets Unblocked in China After Year-Long Ban

Wikipedia Gets Unblocked in China After Year-Long Ban

Reuters News Wire (
Thu, 16 Nov 2006 14:28:27 -0600

Online enyclopedia Wikipedia was accessible again in China on Thursday
after being blocked for more than a year, a move hailed by free media
advocacy group Reporters Without Borders.

The main page of the Chinese-language version of Wikipedia could be displayed and searches for apolitical terms
turned up results, but searches for subjects taboo to China's Communist
leadership, such as "June 4," remained blocked.

June 4, 1989, was the date that China's military crushed a student-led
movement for political change centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square,
killing hundreds and possibly thousands. The incident remains among
the most sensitive subjects for the country's state-controlled media.

China routinely blocks access to Web sites it deems subversive and
filters Internet pages for sensitive words.

It was unclear why Wikipedia, blocked since October 2005, was again

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said she had not heard of
reports regarding Wikipedia, but added that China supports the
development of the Internet and now has 123 million users, making it
the world's second-largest Internet market.

"We manage the Internet according to our laws and regulations. This is
the usual practice for all the countries in the world," spokeswoman
Jiang Yu told a news conference.

Rights groups have accused Western Internet companies of compromising
their principles by censoring searches and blog titles in order to do
business in China.

But Reporters Without Borders said the example of Wikipedia, whose
founder Jimmy Wales has preached a strategy of patience in dealing
with Chinese authorities, showed that if a foreign company stood firm,
Beijing would eventually yield.

"The Chinese government is pragmatic and does not want to do without
foreign businesses in the Internet sector," the Paris-based group said
in a statement. "There is therefore obviously room for negotiation for
the U.S. companies."

Despite the ban on Wikipedia, which anyone can edit, a small community
of Chinese users had used proxy servers and other tricks to gain
access to the site.

Analysts have said it was not only the encyclopedia's content that
worried the Chinese government, but Wikipedia's open editorial
process, which they say has a community-building effect among armchair
editors who can quickly mobilize to create content.

Copyright 2006 Reuters Limited.

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