Why did China unblock Wikipedia?

Why did the Chinese government change its mind about Wikipedia and stop blocking it? Wikipedia expert Andrew Lih has written an interesting post answering that question. Excerpt:
I believe it was because of the argument Jimmy Wales and fellow Chinese Wikipedians have consistently put forth — Wikipedia has a neutral point of view at its core, with no activist or subversive agenda to the site. In the end, I believe consensus among the authorities determined the benefits of Wikipedia far outweigh the risks...

...More importantly though, this provides insight on how to effect change in the PRC, something I’ve been emphasizing for years - encourage China to approach the table, to join the benefits on their own motivation, and allowing them to “tap in.” Unfortunately, this has often not been the approach of Western governments or NGOs.

What doesn’t work? Pushing China solely on issues of freedom of speech, civil liberties for the sake of human rights. It’s just too easy to dismiss these as meddling, imperialistic Western viewpoints used as wedge issues. Do not forget, China was the victim of imperialistic designs which still have a deep effect on the psyche of Chinese leaders and issues of trust.

UPDATE: That didn't last long: Wikipedia's blocked again (November 17).

There are currently 10 Comments for Why did China unblock Wikipedia?.

Comments on Why did China unblock Wikipedia?

Alternately, you could take this as a sign of the increasing confidence of the central government. The fact that you need an information control regime is never a good sign; it suggests that your survival would be threatened without it. Thus, the lessening censorship suggests that the Chinese government has become increasingly confident in its survival.

it seems to be blocked again. Tonight at least.

that's a nice thought, but wikipedia's entry for People's Republic of China is still blocked, so I wouldn't go quite so far to say Mr. Lih suggests.

[[EDITOR'S NOTE (JDM): The zh page for 中华人民共和国 loads up fine here on Beijing Netcom; the English page is being keyword or URL filtered, which is something that Mr. Lih predicts at the bottom of his post.]]

point taken, but, and I'm assuming Lih is talking about the English version of wiki here, if Lih is correct in assuming unblocking wiki is to allow China to contribute, thus improving wiki in terms of its range of voices, it seems somewhat contradictory that Chinese people couldn't even add to the discussion of their own country in the version of wiki that will be read by most of the world--so the dominant Western points of view on China will remain until the rest of the world learns Chinese. If you read the English language version of the PRC entry, you'll see many bits of information considered controversial, and I think letting Chinese people add to the debate would really help a lot as far as 'bringing the Chinese voice to the table' as Lih puts it.

It's blocked again. I assume it's because of moronic coverage like this:

"Blocked by Beijing just over one year ago, the world’s most well known free encyclopedia, built by its users and relying on the Wiki mantra of user-generated, edited and updated content, has finally been set free in China. The great cultural information revolution in China is firmly underway!"

Today China blocked again WIKIpedia ! as seen on tv... I read also on website. You can fight censorship via proxy sites like: and - it is easy and free, anonymous and also hides your IP address. You can also access wikipedia, myspace or other blocked sites from work or school. Also for use ! Enjoy

Nowadays there are many blocked websites in China. My friends an me had been looking for some solution for the full access to any information. First we used pptp and were happy. (Although server was placed on a low-speed pipe in USA, we could access anywhere). Afterwards we got blocked again and left without internet once again. Plus we had a very slow outgoing connection outside China. We tried proxy and online anonymizer. Then we found SmartHide and have been using it for three months already. We can not pay through Internet, that is why we use Free version of SmartHide for now. I recommend it to everyone.

why i cannot edit wikkipedia?

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