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China Reinstates Wikipedia Ban 172

Posted by Zonk
from the that-was-depressingly-quick dept.
Rob T Firefly writes "The International Herald Tribute reports that the lifting of China's Wikipedia ban earlier this week was short-lived. Wikipedia is once again inaccessible from behind the Great Firewall, along with all other Wikimedia projects. Additionally, the URL of Chinese Wikipedia is once again a banned search term. No reason has yet been given for any of it." From the article: "It wasn't immediately clear if Wikipedia was inaccessible due to technical glitches or because government censors had blocked the site again. The Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Information Industry did not immediately respond when contacted for comment Friday. Beijing blocked access to the English and Chinese versions of Wikipedia in October last year, apparently out of concern about entries touching on the country's sensitive spots -- Tibet, Taiwan and other topics."
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China Reinstates Wikipedia Ban

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  • by ackthpt (218170) * on Friday November 17, 2006 @03:41PM (#16888882) Homepage Journal

    In Beijing you have the conservatives and the hard-line conservatives duking it out for control. When policy changes it's because one side has momentarily gained the upper hand, or believed they had, and ordered the change.

    • by Vellmont (569020) on Friday November 17, 2006 @04:24PM (#16889534)

      When policy changes it's because one side has momentarily gained the upper hand, or believed they had, and ordered the change.

      I really have no understanding of how policy is set in China, but I might be able to believe that if Wikipedia was accessible for a month or two, but a major blocking policy like this changing over a few days seems a bit insane. Is there really no one in charge over there that makes decisions that last more than a few days? How the hell can you run a country like that?

      Since the change from block->no-block->block was all so abrupt I'd say it's more likely that this was just either a technical glitch in the firewall, or a deliberate attempt at trying to perpetuate the belief inside China that there IS no official censorship and it's all just "trouble contacting some sites".
      • by anaesthetica (596507) on Friday November 17, 2006 @05:29PM (#16890412) Homepage Journal
        I might be able to believe that if Wikipedia was accessible for a month or two, but a major blocking policy like this changing over a few days seems a bit insane.

        This pattern of behavior was played out on a much larger scale early on in PRC history: the Hundred Flowers Campaign [wikipedia.org] followed by the Anti-Rightist Movement [wikipedia.org]. The pattern is: open up and seemingly liberalize communications for a brief period; then, once everyone who criticizes the government identifies themselves, you go clean them up. Pretty straightforward.

        • by Vellmont (569020)
          The pattern is: open up and seemingly liberalize communications for a brief period; then, once everyone who criticizes the government identifies themselves, you go clean them up


          Hmm.. It's an interesting theory, but it doesn't sound very plausible. If your goal was to find anyone with conflicting views that wants to express them wouldn't you leave the doors open more than a couple days? What would be the purpose to close it down so quickly? Word of Wikipedia being open might not have even spread very wid
          • by DrWho520 (655973)
            wouldn't you leave the doors open more than a couple days? What would be the purpose to close it down so quickly?

            If they let people criticize the government for too long, other people start to listen. That runs the risks of more people criticizing the goverment. Those freely spoken ideas begin to spread and suddenly you have a square full of student protesters. They you have to call in the tanks. But what goverment would ever do that to its youth?
        • by jafac (1449)
          ...once everyone who criticizes the government identifies themselves, you go clean them up. Pretty straightforward.. . .

          . . . which is why Karl Rove didn't rig the 2006 mid-term elections. . .
      • by Ash Vince (602485) on Friday November 17, 2006 @08:28PM (#16892298) Journal
        And the reason for the US invasion of Iraq or Afganistan was US citizens genuinely fearing for their lives?

        Please be serious, every ruling class has their own agenda and they very rarely tell the people they rule.
      • "...or a deliberate attempt at trying to perpetuate the belief inside China that there IS no official censorship and it's all just "trouble contacting some sites".

        Isn't that the official response to the outside world by China when asked about the 'Great Firewall'? This would probably make more sense than any other explanation. When the PRC lifted the ban, I would assume that they knew about the content of the site and where it comes from before lifting the ban in the first place. Just common sense.

        I am h
    • by ClamIAm (926466)
      In Beijing you have the conservatives and the hard-line conservatives duking it out for control.

      Sounds a lot like Washington, D.C.
    • by Monsuco (998964)
      In Beijing you have the conservatives and the hard-line conservatives duking it out for control.
      How in the heck is a communist party "conservative", China is still communal, they just are starting to realize how bad big government and income redistribution is.
      • by 1u3hr (530656)
        How in the heck is a communist party "conservative"

        Maintaining "traditional values" is conservative, and after being in power for about 60 years, the Communist Party is extremely traditionl. They're as revolutionary as twe Daughters of the American Revolution are.

        China is still communal, they just are starting to realize how bad big government and income redistribution is.

        China is very happy with big government. With 1.3 billion people you can hardly not have big government. And you'll be happy to kno

  • Could be.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by otacon (445694) on Friday November 17, 2006 @03:41PM (#16888886)
    Could be a "technical" problem...
  • Wikinews link (Score:4, Informative)

    by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday November 17, 2006 @03:43PM (#16888914) Homepage Journal
    Here [wikinews.org] is the Wikinews link I referred to in the submission. I hadn't found the AP article yet.
  • by jginspace (678908) <jginspace&yahoo,com> on Friday November 17, 2006 @03:44PM (#16888940) Homepage Journal
    ...that which can be explained by incompetence.

    Whether the earlier opening up or this latest blocking is on purpose I don't think we'll know. According to the Chinese delegate to the conference in Greece two weeks ago no sites are blocked.
  • pool's over (Score:5, Funny)

    by brunascle (994197) on Friday November 17, 2006 @03:51PM (#16889044)
    alright, you heard him, pool's over. who had 2 days?
  • Excellent tactic (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Akvum (580456) on Friday November 17, 2006 @03:56PM (#16889124) Homepage Journal
    Let the ban lapse so all the free thinkers and government detractors can post on a popular site, then ban it one week later... sounds like they wanted an easy way to find out who to arrest next!
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A small-scale replay of the Hundred Flowers Campaign that preceded the Cultural Revolution

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hundred_Flowers_Campa ign [wikipedia.org]

      Of course it won't seem so small-scale to the people tossed into the jail...
    • by fa2k (881632)

      This reasoning assumes that the ultimate goal of the Chinese gov't is to arrest its citizens. People using Wikipedia are not necessarily free-thinking or critical off the government, so this would be almost random people (although not the poor farmers who don't have Internet access). I do think the Chinese regime is bad, and it is oppressive, but I don't think it is evil for the sake of being evil. Even if it was, there are thousands of other ways to prosecute random citizens. The un-banning of WP allowed m

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Looks like they were vandalizing it by replacing all of the text with ?'s anyways...
  • http://www.canada.com/nationalpost/story.html?id=a f642b87-7d79-48ad-a55e-f687c1aad687&k=7039 [canada.com]

    The Canadian PM likes to nag china about human rights.
    So China took one away to prove Canada's point.
  • Its says you can't search for it anymore, but does that mean you can't go directly to the site?

    I know many non-techie users can't wrap their heads around typing in URLs to go directly to the site without a Google or MSN search, but you'd think they'd block direct access rather than the search.
    • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday November 17, 2006 @04:30PM (#16889624) Homepage Journal
      According to Wikinews, searching from within China on any non-Chinese search engine (including the English-language Google, Yahoo, and MSN you know and/or love) for the string "zh.wikipedia.org" will apparently get you banned from viewing that search engine for several minutes. I imagine this is to stop people finding references to the blocked site and discussions of its' blocking (like we are now) just as much as it is to discourage people using things like Google's cache to see the blocked material.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by nihaopaul (782885)
      i'm in shanghai on china telecoms adsl line, wikipedia is blocked for me, and it was going so well :( i used it for creative research almost hourly..

      back to tor i guess
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Friday November 17, 2006 @04:22PM (#16889498)
    They haven't blocked it:

    http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid =57869 [ucla.edu] (posted at 2:18 PM EST)
    http://www.toptechnews.com/news/China-Abandons-Wik ipedia-Censorship/story.xhtml?story_id=101009A5G2I Q [toptechnews.com] (posted at 12:19 PM EST)

    I don't know if I entirely believe it, but that's another story....
    • Those look like latecomers to the story of the original lifting of the block earlier this week, which this story is about the end of.
  • Run TOR (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mantus (65568) on Friday November 17, 2006 @04:46PM (#16889844)
    TOR helps people in oppressive countries freely access information and it needs to grow.
    http://tor.eff.org/ [eff.org]
  • will make the rules in the world? (it is possible in the future ) They will ban all the Internet?
  • Editor, PLEASE: "China Reinstates Wikipedia Ban" "It wasn't immediately clear if Wikipedia was inaccessible due to technical glitches or because government censors had blocked the site again." So it is a ban or is it not?
  • by imkow (1021759) on Friday November 17, 2006 @05:29PM (#16890408) Homepage
    All major or minor gateways in china uses a gov-appointed security software installed (sometimes by answering to the gov's requirement), from provincial main cable to a local telcom station, from internet service provider to a router of an unit of a building. From up to down, layer by layer, the software can be everywhere, as a combination of firewall, anti-virus, anti-hacking, anti-porn, word-filtering, user access control and so forth. Many network administrators are quite ok with the software since it provides convinence and secrity to work on.

        The blockage of some websites could be a side effect using that software suit, some websites being blocked occasionaly might because some word trigger(such like some word might be used against The Party) was accidentially fired. Or else, some websites opening occasionally could because some trigger words are removed from the ban list of the software or from the page of the website , in which wikipedia can be the case.

    So maybe the control to release a website from ban list isn't in hands of the gov, since that secrity software suit has already been installed in every level of the network and works independently. It's more like a polical-oriented but technical problem now.

    • by Malakusen (961638)
      So who in The Party do you work for? That's clearly a pro-Chinese Government piece, clearly written by someone with English as a second language, and appears to be raw propaganda.
      • oh yes? one who doesn't sound like you is a part of propaganda. where is my freedom of speech in your ideology? we born in here, we does not want to overrun our gov't so hard as you do. sure, we just want these mandarins improving,or better evolving. but we dont want it collapses in the path you americans want. So when i see this website tracking china's cersorship in a fashion like following a popular cult, i feel it's ok to tell others some fact.
        Please remember, China has already enabled internet. Dont yo
        • by Malakusen (961638)
          And I'm sure that if someone with one of those non-censored blogs criticized the Party, or brought up Falun Gong, benefits of democracy, the Dalai Lama and the movement to free Tibet, police brutality, political prisoners, or Tiananmen Square, you'd find out how far the freedom of those 20 million bloggers goes. Wikipedia is not some Western or American plot to collapse your government, while we may be interested in talking about the topic, I for one don't care what you do with your country. I don't like th
  • My 2 cents (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sheepcentral (914661)
    Slashdot ran a story on how the Chinese Wikipedia because so popular so quickly, now maybe I'm stating what some people must believe to be obvious, but maybe the Chinese gov't saw it as a treat to their power. If you think about it something so community based and free (as in speech not beer) could if it took off in a big way might give the Chinese a taste for unrestricted information, then if the Chinese gov't chose to censor it again then there might be protests etcetera and generally it might reduce thei
  • by rm69990 (885744) on Friday November 17, 2006 @06:39PM (#16891214)
    Why doesn't China scan Wikipedia for certain keywords and just block certain articles? Don't get me wrong, I think China should be banning no sites, period. However, if China's government insists on blocking Wikipedia due to concerns that articles that touch on their sensitive spots might pop-up, why don't they at least make the rest of Wikipedia available?
    • by Trillan (597339)
      I agree that'd be nice, but -- why would they?
      • by rm69990 (885744)
        Because they do that with the rest of the internet anyways, so they could do the exact same thing with Wikipedia.
        • by Trillan (597339)
          Whatever they're doing now is what takes the minimum amount of work to set up, since it is already in that state. In order for them to open up wikipedia, they'd have to expend some effort. That effort would have to be justified by assuming that wikipedia is in some way beneficial. If they don't share that evaluation -- again, why spend any effort on it?
  • by SMACX guy (1003684) on Friday November 17, 2006 @06:48PM (#16891300) Homepage
    As the Americans learned so painfully in Earth's final century, free flow of information is the only safeguard against tyranny. The once-chained people whose leaders at last lose their grip on information flow will soon burst with freedom and vitality, but the free nation gradually constricting its grip on public discourse has begun its rapid slide into despotism. Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.
  • in soviet russia, wikipedia bans you.
  • Is an SSH tunnel a crime in China? Or maybe I should ask it this way. Is an SSH tunnel from within China to someplace outside of China a crime? If no, maybe us who are outside of China should start hosing some SSH tunneled proxys for the people in China.

    Remind me to skip the 2008 Olympics.

    • by Cheapy (809643)
      Skip the 2008 Olympics.
      • by Bertie (87778)
        As a protest, you mean?

        Seen who's up next?

        At the rate they're going, the UK should have become every bit as oppressive as China by the time London gets the games in 2012.

        I wish I was joking about this.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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