Wikimedia Foundation’s English-language
site was accessible in China again on Friday, although its simplified
Chinese-language site remained blocked.
China censors Internet content that it finds objectionable, usually political material relating to Taiwan or Tibetan independence, the Falun Gong cult, and occasionally pornography. Although the Web sites of most Western news outlets are available, the
British Broadcasting Corp.’s news site remains a noteworthy exception.
The English Wikipedia site has been unavailable for various periods over the last three years, and has kept a record of those periods on its site.
“Wikipedia is such a popular Web site that almost every foreigner who visits China may try to visit Wikipedia pages. I believe someone at [the Ministry of Information Industry] or another government ministry realized what bad PR a Wikipedia block produces,” said Jeremy Goldkorn, editor of
Danwei.org, a Beijing-based media and Internet site.
“Once they had figured out the elegant solution of keeping the Chinese version blocked, and filtering out English Wikipedia pages about Tibet and other ‘sensitive’ subjects, they were happy to let us access the rest of Wikipedia,” Goldkorn said.
Yahoo’s Flickr photo service also remained accessible from China. However, most photos on the site were blocked and could not be viewed by Chinese users.