The Communist regime in China continues to ramp up its online censorship with Wikipedia the latest internationally renowned site to fall victim to the censors.
According to two separate sites which monitor censorship and surveillance in Communist China, the online encyclopedia has been unavailable in every language since the end of April.
How to access Wikipedia in China with a VPN
At the time of writing, anyone in China who wants to access Wikipedia can only do so with the help of a VPN.
VPNs are illegal in China and there has been plenty of effort to try and block them. But despite the billions of dollars spent by the Communist regime on controlling the internet, this ban is still largely ineffective.
Not all VPNs will work behind the regimes Great Firewall, but there are still plenty of good ones that do. These include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and VPN.ac. Just connect to a server outside China and Wikipedia will become available again.
To find the best VPN to access Wikipedia in China, a good place to start is our guide to the Best VPNs for China 2019.
How the Wikipedia block was identified
The revelation that Wikipedia is now completely unavailable in China in all languages was first made by Ooni, a monitoring service run by the Tor Project.
According to Ooni, before last month, it was only the Mandarin Chinese version of Wikipedia which was blocked in China. This block has been in place since 10th November 2016 but has not been extended to all versions in all languages.
Ooni has regularly tested multiple Wikipedia sites in multiple locations across China. They have mostly been using internet connections operated by the state-owned China Telecom ISP, but some other ISPs have been tested too.
They have found that from 25th April, all Wikipedia sub-domains are unavailable in all tested locations. Interestingly, this even included sub-domains which don’t actually exist. They tested doesnotexist.wikipedia.org and found that to be blocked too.
The inevitable conclusion from their findings is that the Communist regime in China has decided that they don’t want the Chinese people enjoying the free access to information that Wikipedia offers anymore.
Another site, GreatFire.org which also monitors internet activity in China has reached the same conclusion.
Their tests suggest that the block on Wikipedia sub-domains came into force on 22nd April. They have tested daily since then and concluded that the block has remained consistently in place since then.
The findings of both Ooni and GreatFire are also backed up by anecdotal evidence on Chinese social media where multiple users have reported being unable to access the English-language version of Wikipedia.
Why is China blocking Wikipedia?
There has been no official comment on the block by the Communist regime in China but observers are already speculating as to why they might have chosen to block Wikipedia now.
One theory is that they are acting ahead of the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. On June 4th 1989, Communist party troops open fire on student protestors in Beijing, killing hundreds, maybe even thousands of innocent civilians.
The Communist Party has since strived to wipe all record of this event from public consciousness in China and any record of it is heavily censored.
Articles on content such as this have been individually blocked for years but in 2016, Wikipedia moved to HTTPS and this added security was enough to persuade the Communist Party to block the Mandarin language site in its entirety.
There is also a rumour that the Communist regime has been developing its own online encyclopedia. This is thought to contain more than 300,000 articles from 20,000 scholars and will, of course, tell the Communist Party’s version of history and the world.
Events like the Tiananmen Square massacre and things like Taiwanese democracy and Huawei’s international cybercrime activities are unlikely to get a mention.
But it could just be that one of China’s million-plus online censors has got a bit too enthusiastic. They are paid on results and are therefore incentivised to block as much content as possible.
Whatever the real reason behind the block, the loser ultimately is the people of China. The Communist regime’s refusal to allow them access to information and give them a free voice to speak out about the regime in their country means their ongoing oppression will continue.
And if the recent trend under Xi Jinping’s leadership is anything to go by, things are only going to continue getting worse in Communist China.