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China is building its own version of Wikipedia

China is building its own version of Wikipedia


Digitized Chinese Encyclopedia will include 300,000 entries compiled by 20,000 scholars

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Foreign Ministers Meet In China
Photo by Kenzaburo Fukuhara-Pool/Getty Images

China is developing an online version of its national encyclopedia as an alternative to Wikipedia. As the South China Morning Post reports, the forthcoming third edition of the Chinese Encyclopedia will include 300,000 entries, with about 1,000 words per entry. When completed next year, it will be about the same size as the Chinese version of Wikipedia.

“The Chinese Encyclopedia is not a book, but a Great Wall of culture,” Yang Muzhi, the project’s editor-in-chief and chairman of the Book and Periodicals Distribution Association of China, said at an event last month.

“Our goal is not to catch up, but overtake.”

Wikipedia is available in China, where many websites and media outlets are heavily censored, though entries on politically sensitive subjects — such as the Dalai Lama or President Xi Jinping — are blocked.

Speaking at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in April, Yang said the new Chinese Encyclopedia aims to “guide and lead the public and society,” according to the South China Morning Post. More than 20,000 authors from universities and research institutions are working to compile the encyclopedia, which officials described as a digital book of “everything.” In a newspaper article last year, Yang wrote that “our goal is not to catch up, but overtake” Wikipedia with the new Chinese Encyclopedia.

Other countries have sought to censor Wikipedia or develop their own government-approved versions of the site. Authorities in Turkey blocked access to the site last week, reportedly because the site did not respond to government requests to remove content from writers accused of “supporting terror.” In 2014, Russia announced plans to build an alternative version of Wikipedia, in an attempt to provide what officials described as more “detailed and reliable” information about the country.