China blocks Wikipedia in all languages

Key Points
  • Mandarin version of Wikipedia already banned in China.
  • Now Beijing extends ban to all foreign language versions.
  • Wikimedia confirms the ban has been in place since April.
Mike Kemp | Corbis Historical | Getty Images

Wikipedia has been blocked in mainland China since April, according to a press report which cites a statement from the Wikimedia foundation.

The BBC said Wednesday that all languages of the online encyclopedia were now unavailable to Chinese-based internet users. Beijing officials had already banned the Chinese language version of the site.

In a subsequent statement Friday, the foundation confirmed the that Wikipedia was no longer accessible in the People's Republic and this had impacted 1.3 billion people.

"Based on our internal traffic reports, Wikipedia is currently blocked across all language versions. Most other Wikimedia projects, such as Wikimedia Commons, a site that holds 53 million freely licensed media files, are still available."

Wikimedia said teh online encyclopedia had been blocked intermittently in China dating back to 2004 and the Chinese language Wikipedia had been blocked in China since June 2015. Other language Wikipedias had  remained available until now.

The Wikimedia Foundation called on Chinese authorities to reverse their decision.

"We regret the Chinese authorities' decision to further limit internet freedom and urge them to restore access to Wikipedia."

Thousands of websites cannot be accessed in China, with many often taken offline temporarily during the anniversaries of political events such as the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 when authorities killed thousands of student activists.