The Chinese government appears to have partially unblocked access to Wikipedia, according to a notice on the online encyclopaedia's website.
A recent edit to Wikipedia's entry on 'Blocking of Wikipedia in mainland China' says that some users have been able to access some or all of Wikipedia in various locations in mainland China.
Although Wikipedia states that the edit is a "current event", and that the information "may change rapidly as the event progresses", the move could indicate that the Chinese government is slowly lifting the block imposed in October 2005.
After the first block was put in place, Wikipedia said that some users were still able to visit the site using a proxy server.
In the past couple of days, however, users have reported being able to directly access either the Chinese language Wikipedia, the English version or both.
Even if the block is lifted, it may not facilitate full access to Wikipedia in China, according to Danny O'Brien, activism coordinator at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
"It is possible that China could filter Wikipedia. Wikipedia doesn't need to censor itself, China could do it for them. The trade-off is not as good," he told vnunet. com.
O'Brien pointed out that the Chinese government has recently moved from blocking sites to "degrading the connection", causing the site to run slowly or experience frequent downtime and ultimately driving users away.
"Perhaps a greater challenge to Wikipedia is not being blocked or censored, but the Chinese government pursuing a determined and labour-heavy attack on it," said O'Brien.
"They have thousands of people to filter the internet in China, and this could be the edit war to end all edit wars."
China relaxes block on Wikipedia
By Shaun Nichols on Oct 16, 2006 10:07AM