2021 Wikimedia Foundation actions on the Chinese Wikipedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Logo of Wikimedians of Mainland China, the user group being investigated in the action

On September 13, 2021, the Wikimedia Foundation took official action on the Chinese Wikipedia after investigating users from Wikimedians of Mainland China (WMC or WMCUG), an unaffiliated Wikipedia user group.

At 16:13, September 13, 2021 GMT (00:13, September 14, 2021 Beijing Time), the Wikimedia Foundation globally banned seven accounts from editing Wikipedia, revoked the administrative rights of twelve accounts, and warned twelve other users.[1][2] Four of the top ten most active administrators on Chinese Wikipedia had their rights revoked.[3] These actions were announced on September 13, 2021 GMT by Maggie Dennis, Vice President of Community Resilience and Sustainability for the Legal Department at Wikimedia Foundation.


Maggie Dennis said that the Chinese Wikipedia was under investigation by the Foundation for nearly a year.[4] In September 2020, the Chinese government blocked the Wikimedia Foundation from observer status at WIPO citing the existence of a Wikimedia affiliate in Taiwan, and the Wikimedia Foundation began investigating WMC.

According to the news report of Hong Kong Free Press, two Chinese Wikipedia users threatened to report Hong Kong Wikipedians to the National Security Department.[5] WMC denied this.[1][failed verification] In August 2021, the Foundation modified the security terms in the "access to nonpublic personal data policy", and users with advanced permissions allowing them to retrieve IP address data of other users on Chinese Wikipedia had their access revoked.[citation needed]


In an announcement on Wikimedia about the actions, Maggie Dennis acknowledged the radical nature of the Foundation's actions but stressed that the decision was based on a number of considerations and an in-depth investigation.[3] The Foundation decided to take action after Maggie Dennis told the media that editors had tried to manipulate the content of articles as well as the election of administrators and that other editors had been physically harmed. However, she did not intend to accuse the Chinese government.[6][2][Note 1]

In response, Wikimedians of Mainland China posted an open letter on Qiuwen [zh], calling the Wikimedia Foundation's actions baseless (莫須有) and declaring its intention to resist the crackdown with practical action.[1][7][8] The Global Times, a tabloid officially owned and operated by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, alleged that the Wikimedia Foundation "purged" the Chinese editors.[9]

In an interview with the BBC Tech Tent program commenting on the latest obsessions about China, Maryana Iskander, the new Chief Executive of the Wikimedia Foundation, emphasized the autonomy of the Wikipedia community and said, "One of the very early things that I've learned in this process is that certainly the Wikimedia Foundation does not play a role in setting editorial policy and that these are the debates that happen in communities."[10][11]

Jimmy Wales, the cofounder of Wikipedia, commented on these actions in an interview with BBC: "I have deep experience of talking to people all over the world, and the idea that people in China, for example, are so brainwashed that they can't see that neutrality is just false," but said "The idea that we are excluding China, is absurd. We welcome with open arms editors from China."[12]

Subsequent events[edit]

On October 7, 2021, at the 62nd session of the World Intellectual Property Organization, the People's Republic of China voted against the Wikimedia Foundation's application to become an official observer of the WIPO on the grounds that Wikipedia violated the "one-China principle" and "disseminated false information".[13] China was the only country out of the 193 members of the organization to vote against the WIPO application,[14] causing Wikimedia Foundation's application to fail.

A Wikimedian showed a screenshot to Voice of America of an announcement made by globally locked user "Walter Grassroot" in the Wikimedians of Mainland China QQ group after the foundation's application was rejected. According to the announcement, after the foundation blocked Chinese users, Chinese Wikimedians submitted relevant documents to the Chinese Embassy in Geneva through various channels. Walter Grassroot also suggested that the failure of the foundation's application was good news.[15] From 2021 to 2023, all attempts by the Wikimedia Foundation and local chapters to join WIPO failed.

Qiuwen Baike[edit]

Qiuwen Baike
Main Page of Qiuwen Baike
Type of site
Online encyclopedia
Available inSimplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese (support traditional and simplified conversion)
Predecessor(s)Chinese Wikipedia
OwnerWuxi Gongbi Quanshu Technology Company Limited (formerly Wikimedians of Mainland China) [citation needed]
Content license
CC Attribution / Share-Alike 4.0

In an interview with the BBC in late October 2021, globally-banned WMC member Techyan and 6 other users said the user group was attempting to create a "Chinese version of Wikipedia",[16] a platform that would represent Beijing's views on some political issues for people in mainland China to access without a VPN with oversight from the People's Republic of China government and would use some of Wikipedia's content.[16]

In December 2021, WMC member Techyan told Fast Company that "a tech giant" was negotiating a partnership with them, and that more than 40 Chinese Wikipedia editors had joined Qiuwen with has a total of 200 active editors. and that people would be involved in both Wikipedia and Qiuwen.[17]

In February 2022, ByteDance's subsidiary Baike.com denied the existence of a partnership between ByteDance and WMC to provide technical and financial support for Qiuwen baike.[18]

In April 2022, the encyclopedia "Qiuwen baike" created by WMC became open to access, and editors from Taiwan carried out cyber attacks on the site. As of June 2023, Qiuwen baike was open for editing.[citation needed]


  1. ^ a b c Chen Guanrong. "內部編輯遭恐嚇,維基媒體基金會拔除多名「中國大陸維基人用戶組」成員" [Internal editors were intimidated, and the Wikimedia Foundation removed several members of the "Mainland China Wikipedia User Group"]. TechNews 科技新報 (in Chinese (Taiwan)). Archived from the original on September 16, 2021. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "维基百科以亲中势力渗透为由封禁"中国大陆维基人用户组"七名编辑" (in Chinese). BBC. Archived from the original on September 17, 2021. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  3. ^ a b 鄭樂捷 (September 15, 2021). "維基封鎖7名中國大陸用戶 指為保障用戶安全" (in Chinese). 美国之音. Archived from the original on September 15, 2021. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  4. ^ "Wikipedia blames pro-China infiltration for bans". BBC News. September 16, 2021. Archived from the original on September 18, 2021. Retrieved September 16, 2021.
  5. ^ Cheng, Selina (July 14, 2021). "Hong Kong Wikipedia editors take precautions amid fears mainland peers may report users to national security police". Hong Kong Free Press. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  6. ^ "忧渗透与起底风险 维基百科对中国编辑下禁令" (in Chinese). 德國之聲. Archived from the original on September 17, 2021. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  7. ^ "維基百科禁 7 內地用戶 指有滲透起底風險 內地群組:準備鬥爭". 立場新聞 Stand News (in Chinese). Archived from the original on September 15, 2021. Retrieved September 15, 2021.
  8. ^ 观察者网 (September 17, 2021). "维基百科封禁7名中国大陆编辑:他们想搞"渗透"". 新浪新闻 (in Chinese). Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  9. ^ "维基百科封杀7个中文编辑,仅仅因为他们拒绝涉中话题被污染" (in Chinese). 环球时报. Archived from the original on September 18, 2021. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  10. ^ "Tech Tent: Wikipedia's editing war". BBC.
  11. ^ "Tech Tent – what next for Wikipedia?". BusinessGhana. September 18, 2021.
  12. ^ "Wikipedia in Chinese editing war of words". BBC. October 29, 2021. Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  13. ^ Moody, Glyn (October 7, 2021). "If You Want To Know Why Section 230 Matters, Just Ask Wikimedia: Without It, There'd Be No Wikipedia". Techdirt. Archived from the original on October 8, 2021. Retrieved October 23, 2021.
  14. ^ "【維基百科】中方「一票反對」 「維基媒體基金」二度被拒聯合國機構". RFA. October 7, 2021.
  15. ^ 郑乐捷 (October 7, 2021). "中国再度以台湾为由 阻止维基媒体基金会申请成为世界知识产权组织观察员" (in Chinese). 美国之音. Retrieved October 7, 2021.
  16. ^ a b "維基百科移除親北京編輯 被逐者將建「中國版維基」". BBC News Chinese (in Chinese).
  17. ^ "The war over Chinese Wikipedia is a warning for the open internet". Fast Company. December 18, 2021. Retrieved February 6, 2022.
  18. ^ "传字节跳动与中文维基百科人员合作创建新"求闻百科",官方称不属实" (in Chinese). 界面新闻.


  1. ^ Chinese: 我不能够就此将矛头指向中国政府

External links[edit]