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China 7 August 2006

Wikipedia-style online encyclopedia closes under government pressure

Reporters Without Borders voiced regret today that the editor of e-Wiki, a Chinese collaborative encyclopedia on the Wikipedia model, felt obliged to close down his website to avoid problems for his contributors. Local Internet sources say the decision was linked to articles on Taiwan and on James Lung, the head of the Hong Kong-based Southern Democratic Alliance.

“It is regrettable that government threats forced e-Wiki’s editor to censor himself,” the press freedom organisation said. “We understand that he felt in danger in the current context, as the authorities have significantly stepped up their control over online publications, and many sites have been closed down by force in recent weeks.”

Radio Free Asia reported on 4 August that e-Wiki stopped functioning at the end of July, a few weeks after posting an article about Lung describing him as a politician close to the Falun Gong spiritual movement and outspoken in his criticism of the Communist Party of China. Another recently-posted article referred to the Taiwanese authorities as the “government of the Republic of China” and said they were not ready to give up their sovereignty and autonomy as regards mainland China.

Access to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that is written and edited by its own users, has been blocked in China since October 2005. To fill the gap, the Chinese web portal Baidu launched a censored version called Baidupedia in April.

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