China already blocks thousands of websites, including Gmail, Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. And while the Chinese-language version of Wikipedia has been blocked since 2015, versions in other languages had been available until now.
The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) reports that the original ban was expanded to cover all languages last month. The Wikipedia Foundation told the BBC that it had received “no notice” of the move.
“In late April, the Wikimedia Foundation determined that Wikipedia was no longer accessible in China. After closely analyzing our internal traffic reports, we can confirm that Wikipedia is currently blocked across all language versions,” the organization said, in a statement.
As noted by Engadget, Wikipedia’s switch to HTTPS back in 2015 made it much more difficult for China’s government to monitor which pages its citizens were looking at. Banning Wikipedia in all languages means people now can’t use online translators to read the site's content.
No reason has been given as to why China expanded the ban, but it has been known to block websites as anniversaries of political events draw near. June 4 marks thirty years since thousands of pro-democracy student protesters were killed by authorities at Tiananmen Square.
China has been clamping down hard on its citizens’ internet freedoms over the last few years, demanding that the country’s biggest carriers block personal VPNs to stop people circumventing its Great Firewall. Additionally, we recently heard how the nation’s Twitter users face detention, interrogation, and threats for posting on the platform.
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