Friday, October 13, 2006

Wikipedia in China...good news

(Reposted verbatim from China Rises: Notes from the Middle Kingdom. The "I" here is not me, but Tim Johnson whose blog it is):

Relaxing the internet squeeze: "It’s not often that I can relate a positive development in the battle for access to information in China. But recent hours bring good news.

China has unblocked the English-language service of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. The content of Wikipedia is written and constantly edited by its users.

It is believed to be the world’s 17th most visited website.

For some reason, the internet police in China, dubbed ‘the nanny’ by British friends, have lifted censorship of Wikipedia even though it contains references to topics considered sensitive to the Chinese, such as the ‘three Ts’ -- Tibet, Taiwan and the Tiananmen Square bloodshed in 1989.

The Chinese-language site has not been unblocked.

Why did China loosen its grip? Beats me. In China, one gets accustomed to government policies that squeeze with one hand while caressing with the other. Maybe they are preparing to crack down on another part of the internet.

Some of the internet censorship is inexplicable. For example, why do they block the Philadelphia Inquirer but not the Washington Post or the New York Times?

In any case, hats off to Wikipedia, which is based in St. Petersburg, Florida, my home town.

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