Chinese Internet users from Beijing and Shanghai are reporting that they can now access the English-language version of Wikipedia after it was blocked by the Chinese authorities a couple of months ago. However, the Chinese version and other sites which have politically sensitive topics such as Tibet and Tiananmen Square remained restricted at this time.
The decision to remove the restriction followed after an inspector from the International Olympic Committee (OIC) told the Beijing Olympic organizers that the Chinese government should remove the restriction even just for the duration of the 2008 Olympics. According to the inspector, continually blocking the access to Wikipedia might reflect a bad impression about the host country.
If you remember, Wikipedia is one of the several sites that the Chinese authorities have blocked to avoid sparking dissent in the region. Yahoo’s Flickr photo-sharing site and Google’s YouTube were also a victim of Chinese Internet censorship before.
And since Wikipedia’s more than 2 million articles in English contain politically sensitive subjects such as Tibet and Taiwan independence, the banned Falun Gong spiritual group and the bloodily suppressed pro-democracy protests of 1989, it is but understandable that the Chinese authorities blocked the site from Chinese users.
Well, it seems that Chinese Internet users would have to thank the Beijing Olympics for having access to Wikipedia again, even if it will just be for a couple of weeks.