In the evolving cat-and-mouse game of censorship in China, the English Wikipedia has become completely unblocked, again, becoming accessible to Chinese behind its so-called “Great Firewall” of China. However, the Chinese version of Wikipedia remains completely blocked, creating what some believe to be a half-hearted victory at best. There has been a history of blocking, partially blocking, and completely unblocking both the English and Chinese Wikipedias over the past few years, with this latest unblocking only the latest chapter in this drama.
Is this a big deal, however?Â It might not be.Â Here’s why.
With the ability for anyone to edit Wikipedia, however, it might suprise you to learn that the content of the English and Chinese Wikipedias actually differ quite substantially in certain controversial areas of Chinese history and culture. Its almost as though its a more pervasive form of censorship; rather than merely blocking out historical facts, Chinese contributors are trying to reorganize their own history by ignoring some facts, while highlighting others.
The Tiannamen Square Massacre, for example, in the English Wikipedia, lists that “hundreds” died; in the Chinese Wikipedia, such acknowedgement cannot be found.
So, is the blocking of the Chinese Wikipedia a big deal — not really.Â It seems like enough Chinese patriates are doing a good job in using Wikipedia’s own rules to “rewrite” their own history.