China lifts ban on non-Chinese versions of Wikipedia

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hefei —Direct Internet connection to Wikipedia has been restored in China since this morning with the exception of the Chinese version, which is still unavailable and whose domain name (zh.wikipedia.org) is still a filtered keyword. This comes one week after the similar removal of restrictions on connections to all non-Chinese content of BBC News website, and the unblocking of Google’s Blogspot. It is still unclear how long the ease of restrictions will last.

In an April 3 commentary, BBC’s Asia bureau chief Paul Danahar, who is based in Beijing, confirmed that “Wikipedia has now been partially unblocked by the Chinese”.

The International Olympic Committee recently warned China that it wanted the internet freely accessible for the entire duration of the Olympic Summer Games. Unrestricted access is guaranteed to the 30,000 reporters and media staff expected for the Olympics under Beijing’s ‘host city contract’.

In 2006, China lifted and then reinstated the ban on Wikipedia. The operation of the so-called Great Firewall is still shrouded in secrecy. Chinese Wikipedians have pleaded to the government in the past for the unblocking of Wikipedia, but to no avail.



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