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China unblocks English Wikipedia

BBC news and some Flickr photos still censored

Wikimedia Foundation's English-language site was accessible in China again on Friday, although its simplified Chinese-language site remained blocked.

China censors internet content that it finds objectionable, usually political material relating to Taiwan or Tibetan independence, the Falun Gong cult, and occasionally pornography. Although the websites of most Western news outlets are available, the BBC's news site remains a noteworthy exception.

The English Wikipedia site has been available for various periods over the last three years, and has kept a record of those periods on its site.

"Wikipedia is such a popular website that almost every foreigner who visits China may try to visit Wikipedia pages. I believe someone at [the Ministry of Information Industry] or another government ministry realised what bad PR a Wikipedia block produces," said Jeremy Goldkorn, editor of Danwei.org, a Beijing-based media and internet site.

"Once they had figured out the elegant solution of keeping the Chinese version blocked, and filtering out English Wikipedia pages about Tibet and other 'sensitive' subjects, they were happy to let us access the rest of Wikipedia," Goldkorn said.

While English Wikipedia was unblocked, Yahoo's Flickr photo service remained accessible from China. However, most photos on the site were blocked and could not be viewed by Chinese users.

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