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China blocks all language editions of Wikipedia

AFP  |  Beijing 

has broadened its block of Wikipedia to include all language editions, reported an research group, ahead of the country's most politically

According to a report by the (OONI), started blocking all language editions of Wikipedia last month.

Previously, most editions of Wikipedia -- besides the Chinese language version, which was reportedly blocked in 2015 -- were available, OONI said in their report.

could not open any of Wikipedia's versions in on Wednesday.

"At the end of the day, the content that really matters is Chinese-language content," said Charlie Smith, the pseudonym of of org, which tracks online in

"Blocking access to all language versions of Wikipedia for users in China is just symbolic," he told "It symbolises the fear that the Chinese authorities have of the truth." Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation that hosts Wikipedia, did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment.

China's online apparatus -- dubbed the "Great Firewall" -- blocks a large number of foreign sites in the country, such as Google, and

Topics that are deemed too "sensitive" are also scrubbed, such as the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen on June 4.

The expanded block of Wikipedia comes as Chinese authorities ramp up and crack down on Great circumvention tools, such as (VPN) software, under Chinese

In November, China's cyberspace authority said it had "cleaned up" 9,800 accounts on Chinese like messaging app WeChat and the Twitter-like that it accused of spreading "politically harmful" information and rumours.

Chinese users have also told that they have experienced intimidation from local authorities -- and even detention -- for their tweets.

The latest move to block all versions of Wikipedia could be linked to online translation tools, which make it easy for Chinese users to read anything on Wikipedia, explained Smith.

Images can also be considered taboo, he said.

"A picture is worth a thousand words, and there is no dearth of Tiananmen-related imagery on the Wikipedia website," Smith added.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, May 15 2019. 16:36 IST