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China’s great firewall blanks out Wikipedia

Chinese, English lingo versions of online encyclopedia offline again

Now you see it. Now you don’t.

Online encyclopedia Wikipedia emerged from a yearlong ban in China last week to be accessed again by millions of Chinese Internet users. But within a matter of days, both the English- and Chinese-language versions have been taken offline again.

English version became available last month, the Chinese version less than two weeks ago. But by Friday, screens went blank or displayed technical error messages when Chinese Netizens tried to access either.

The Ministry of Information offered no explanation for the latest lost connections.

China, which employs some 40,000 civil servants and an array of software tools to police the Internet, blocked access to Wikipedia in October last year. At that time it cited the site’s discussions of Taiwan and Tibet, both political no-go areas for ordinary Chinese citizens.

Wikipedia’s user-supplied content makes it harder for Webmasters to manage than centrally authored sites.

China’s Web policing operations, nicknamed “the great firewall,” have in the past hit everything from news channels that report on political unrest to videogames that depict Tibet. Earlier this year Google and its Gmail Web-based email service became unavailable for more than a week.

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