China totally bans Wikipedia ahead of Tiananmen anniversary

Wikimedia Foundation confirms Wikipedia is no longer accessible in China

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Tiananmen Square (By Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) --. Beijing has blocked all language editions of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday (May 15), reports Reuters.

Samantha Lien, communications manager at Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia, confirmed in an email that, “Wikipedia is blocked across all language versions.” This means Wikipedia is no longer accessible in China.

According to a report from the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), China started blocking all language editions of Wikipedia in April, before the anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, which marks student protests in Beijing on May 4, 1919.

Suspicions there was a total block surfaced in late April when some Chinese internet users began complaining the online encyclopedia was no longer accessible. Tests run by GreatFire.org, an organization that tracks internet censorship in China, revealed that Wikipedia has not been accessible from within China since April 23, according to Reuters.

Wikipedia has been blocked in China intermittently since 2004, according to Wikimedia Foundation. Since 2015, its Chinese-language site has been blocked by China’s “Great Firewall” that blocks access to selected foreign websites and internet tools such as Google search, Facebook, and Twitter.

Internet authorities in China often ramp up censorship before sensitive anniversaries. This June will mark 30 years since the Chinese military used force to suppress pro-democracy protests centered around Tiananmen Square, which led to what is known as the Tiananmen Massacre.

“With the expansion of this block, millions of readers and volunteer editors, writers, academics, and researchers within China cannot access this resource or share their knowledge and achievements with the world,” said Lien in her email.

“When one country, region, or culture cannot join the global conversation on Wikipedia, the entire world is poorer,” she added.