Why China censors Wikipedia

Why China censors Wikipedia

Summary: The Washington Post features a fascinating account of citizens building the Chinese Wikipedia and why the government chooses to censor.


The Washington Post today features a fascinating account of citizens building the Chinese Wikipedia and why the government chooses to censor. The trouble centers naturally around Tiananmen Square, but really it's about the trouble that top-down governments have with the grass-roots collaboration that Wikipedia offers. A few excerpts:

The Communist Party polices these emerging Internet communities with censors and undercover agents, and manages a Web site that it said received nearly a quarter-million anonymous tips about "harmful information" online last year. But the methods the party uses to control speech and behavior in the real world have proved less effective in cyberspace, where people get away with more, and where the government is often a step behind.

When authorities catch up, citizens often have already weakened the party's grip on public life and succeeded in expanding civil society. They have organized charity drives for rural schoolchildren and mobilized students for anti-Japanese protest marches. And they learned to work together to write an encyclopedia.

At start, the Chinese Wikipedia community was rife with conflict - over the proper name for the war between China and Japan in 1937, over how to resolve disputes. The principles of Wikipedia - "objectivity in content, equality among users, the importance of consensus" - were frankly alien to most Chinese users. Slowly, the community worked out its processes, and state-run media promoted the site.

Then, on the 15th anniversary of Tianaman, authorities blocked the site. Nineteen days later it was unblocked.

Slowly, a community was consolidating outside the party's purview, one that was learning to settle its own disputes, that crossed borders and tolerated those who contradicted the party's views, and that began organizing get-togethers in the real world as well as cyberspace.

It must have been disturbing to some in the party, which has long sought to dominate all organized social activity in China. In September 2004, the government blocked access to Wikipedia again.

 It is still blocked today, but there is some hope:

The number of people using the Chinese Wikipedia site has dropped, but devoted users are finding ways to access it. The community now boasts 45,000 registered users, most from the mainland. Among the site's 56,000 entries is one that explains how to get around the government's firewall.

Topics: Government US, Government, China

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  • Information censorship

    There is no such thing as harmful information. The only information that could possibly be harmful is the information that you don't get......
  • why the chinese sysops can still manage wikipedia in Chinese despite block?

    "But on sensitive questions of China's modern history or on hot-button issues, the Chinese version diverges so dramatically from its English counterpart that it sometimes reads as if it were approved by the censors themselves." from [http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/11/29/news/wiki.php Chinese-language Wikipedia presents different view of history]

    I know, right now, those chinese spy moderators must be really hoping that they can delete this topic asap. I posted a similar comment on the chinese page, it was IMMEDIATLY deleted. and all my other comments which are not related to this topic, which are very relevant to those topics were also deleted, and somehow those chinese spy moderators also made them "disappeared" as if they did not delete anything at all. and then they banned me for "vandalism."

    It is a known fact that China blocked its people's access to wikipedia. however, i checked the chinese page, they have total of 29 moderators that are in China! 6 from beijing, 6 from guangzhou, 6 from shanghai, etc. There are more moderators from China than from any other parts of the world. however, if the chinese are blocked from getting on here, how can those Chinese moderators still have time and resources to moderate the chinese wikipedia? isn't that odd?

    you may have heard about [[Shi Tao]], the chinese government put him in jail for 10 years because the government was able to find his location thru a single IP address which was reported by yahoo. those 29 moderators' are listed publicly on the chinese page. So it is quite obvious that the chinese government must have those 29 mainland chinese moderators' personal informaiton. I highly suspect that most of the chinese mainland moderators are spies sent by the Chinese communists. It is a banned web site, what kind of people are willing to edit a web site that is banned by his or her own government especially in china?!

    I can probably safely say that there are more people using the chinese version from Hong Kong and Taiwan than people from [[mainland China]]. however, [[Hongkong]] only has 13, [[Taiwan]] has 17. isn't that odd? further, during my time on that site, as far as I know, no moderator from hong kong banned or deleted my contributions, and there are 13 of them. if I really did something wrong, shouldn't they also be able to ban or delete? and who can gurantee that those moderators who are listed under other country names are not really from mainland china?

    Another thing, it is forbidden to gather without government permit in China. however, that chinese site recently even had two meetings in capital - [[Beijing]] and in city of guangzhou. there are constant reports about police harassing and spying on people who secretly gathered in churches which are not approved by the government, etc. so there is no way that the government doesn't spy on those wikipedia meetings. It is just shocking to see those moderators so "bravely" advertising on the public page. and when I posted a question about my doubt, it was immediatly deleted as usual. those comment pages were also put into protection.

    i am not insance or crazy. It is also a known fact that china has spies in taiwan. it seems to me that the moderator from taiwan jasonzhoucn is also very "communistly" suspicious. one time, i added to only two extra links to an article of the chinese golden shield project, he immediatly deleted them without a reason. he also deleted the extra information that i have added for some of the articles.

    i am not crazy, or delusional. however, think about it, the chinese have to use special programs, proxy servers in order to get on this page. and even if they have high speed, the speed won't be fast enough. who would have the patience even to edit those pages if the internet connection is not fast enough? there are 13 billion chinese, how many of them can actually get on here easily? so how is that possible that there are so many mainland chinese moderators?! and since the majority of Chinese can't get on this site, you would expect that there are lots of articles pro taiwan's independence, but there are not a lot. And the article about "Two Chinas" was actually deleted TWICE in just November. And one of the moderator later on said that he did not find any history about its delettion at all?!

    The reason that i am suspecting is because of what happened to me recently. i tried to edit the page for the "peopel's republic of china". even today, that article does not have a single word about human rights and falun gong. i added those two items, immediatly a mainland chinese moderator deleted my contribution, then put that article into protection. i have added many similar contents in other articles. most of them have been deleted by those mainland chinese moderators.

    when i tried to voice my suspision and my comments on those community forums, those moderators immediatly deleted them. then they banned me , accused me doing "vandalism?!"

    with 29 chinese mainlander moderators, that site is basically controlled by the chinese spies sent by the communist party. they do not allow people to add anything that are bad about the chinese communist party. so here i am, I don't know if this is the proper place to voice my opinion. i seriously think that someone should take a look into this matter.

    "But on sensitive questions of China's modern history or on hot-button issues, the Chinese version diverges so dramatically from its English counterpart that it sometimes reads as if it were approved by the censors themselves." [1] This indeed confirmed my suspicion.
  • wikipedia attracts lots of obsessive compulsive disorder patients.

    wikipedia has lots of administrators and users that have obsessive compulsive disorders. they are not there to contribute, they all have gone crazy. for example, this administrator khoikohi has obsessive compulsive disorder. he does not care to make this site better, he is just here to do the nerdy revenge. that is right.

    first, he repeatedly reverted the vandalized version of cultural revolution.

    now he keeps reverting those two redirect article of "Chinese government" and "Government of China."

    this guy khoikhoi kept reverting it to Government of the People's Republic of China. that seems to be fine. but look at this one that he did.

    for "Chinese government", he did not rediret to the same "Government of the People's Republic of China." instead, he kept reverting it to "Politics of the People's Republic of China," and in that article, it doesn't even have a link to "government of prc."

    so for "Chinese government" and "Government of China", the so-called online encyclopedia does not even list the same article. even a little kid should know that they should stand for the same thing. but that is not what wikipedia thinks.

    when someone tried to point out that mistake, it was deleted due to "personal attack." And the mistake remains the same. further, that OCD patient khoikhoi even put those two articles under protection, so people can't edit it any more.

    now we know why wikipedia is not a realiable source for information. and it sure attracts lots of OCD patients. that site is becoming a part of their daily obsessive compulsive disorder routine. they must revert and revert, otherwise they can't sleep well or function normal.