Jimmy Wales to Beijing: Wikipedia won't censor

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has refused to censor the content on the Chinese version of Wikipedia, resulting in its being blocked by the Chinese government. Google, Yahoo and others have folded to demands from Beijing's totalitarian bureaucrats, but Wikipedia has stood firm. Predictably, Beijing has come to Wikipedia to ask them for some kind of peace-treaty, because China can ill-afford to block critical information resources if it is to remain economically strong. Jimmy Wales clarifies, "I *intend* to make a trip to China early next year, and I *intend* to meet with as high-level officials as I can. If only Google and Yahoo's executives were as confident in the importance of their services as Wales is of Wikipedia.

Wales said censorship was ' antithetical to the philosophy of Wikipedia. We occupy a position in the culture that I wish Google would take up, which is that we stand for the freedom for information, and for us to compromise I think would send very much the wrong signal: that there's no one left on the planet who's willing to say "You know what? We're not going to give up."'

Wikipedia's entry on the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 includes the government's official claim that 200-300 died and the Chinese student associations and Chinese Red Cross's estimate of 2,000-3,000 deaths.

Wales said: 'I think it's an interesting question whether they're prepared to understand the difference between advocating one set of figures or another versus simply reporting on what the controversy is. I can understand that they would be upset – although of course I still don't think they have any moral right to ban anything – if we were pushing one set of figures in contrast to their objections, but if we are reporting both, to me that's exactly what an encyclopaedia should do and they should be comfortable with that.'


(Thanks, Coop)