Thu, May 04, 2017 - Page 10 News List

China to build state-run Internet encyclopedia site

AFP, SHANGHAI

China plans to launch its own online encyclopedia next year, hoping to build a “cultural Great Wall” that can rival Wikipedia as a go-to information source for Chinese Internet users, whom Beijing fears are being corrupted by foreign influences.

China is under pressure to write its own encyclopedia so it can guide public thought, according to a statement by the project’s executive editor Yang Muzhi (楊牧之) published last month on the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Web site.

He once listed Wikipedia, which is available in China and Britain’s Encyclopedia Britannica as potential rivals and said the project aims to exceed them, according to an article he wrote late last year.

The project, which would be under the guidance of state-owned China Publishing Group Corp (中國出版集團), “must have Chinese characteristics,” he wrote, adding it would be a “symbol of the country’s cultural and technological development” and increase its soft power and international influence.

Unlike Wikipedia — and its Chinese version Baidu Baike (百度百科) — which are written by volunteers and are in a constant state of revision, the new project, which was approved in 2011, is to be entirely written by professionals.

So far more than 20,000 academics have been enlisted to compile the project, which aims to have more than 300,000 entries by its launch next year .

The new encyclopedia is to be based on a previous printed version, published in book form in 1993. A second edition, which can be accessed through a special terminal, was released in 2009.

The newest version is to be released online before being published in a bound edition.

China has more 700 million Internet users, but a 2015 report by US think tank Freedom House found that the country had the most restrictive online use policies of 65 nations it studied, ranking below Iran and Syria.

It has maintained that its various forms of Internet censorship — collectively known as the “Great Firewall” — are necessary for protecting its national security.

Beijing has issued a new restriction for online freedoms, requiring Chinese Internet users to provide their real names when accessing online news sources.

The new restriction is to come into effect on June 1.

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