Turkish authorities banned Wikipedia on the weekend, but the Chinese government, also known for enforcing strict censorship laws, has taken a different approach.
China will launch its own state-run version of Wikipedia next year. At present, Wikipedia is available in China, but some content is blocked.
The Chinese public are unable to access their leader Xi Jinping’s Wikipedia page, for example.
Private firms in China have already set up online encyclopedias. The two biggest are from search giant Baidu and Qihu360, a Beijing-based anti-virus software company.
The new project, however, will be under the guidance of the state-owned China Publishing Group — in keeping with the Chinese government’s censorship policies.
“The need for information in China makes people use Wikipedia through the usual anti-filtering tools, and this is far from ideal for an authoritarian state,” Taha Yasseri, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, told the BBC. “So, this initiative is to attract more users towards the state-approved content.”
The Wikipedia rival “must have Chinese characteristics,” wrote Yang Muzhi the editor-in-chief of the Chinese Encyclopaedia project, who also chairs the Book and Periodicals Distribution Association of China.
“The Chinese Encyclopaedia is not a book, but a Great Wall of culture,” Muzhi said earlier this month.
Unlike Wikipedia, the Chinese project will not be written by volunteers but by academics — scholars selected from state-run universities.
Chinese officials said that over 20,000 people have already been hired to work on the project, which will feature 300,000 entries at about 1,000 words each.
The new encyclopaedia will be based on a previous printed version, published in book form in 1993. A second edition was published in 2012.
China boasts over 700m internet users but had the worst internet freedom ranking in 2015 compared to 65 other countries, including Turkey and Russia, according to a survey carried out by US think tank Freedom House.
Over 40 percent of global internet users live in three countries — China, the US, or India.
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