It’s fair to say Beijing is on icy terms with Wikipedia. Back in 2015, Beijing deployed its Great Firewall to block the Chinese-language version of Wikipedia, and it began blocking all language versions of the site in 2019—a few months before the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests.
Wikipedia suffered an "infiltration" by a Chinese group that "threatened the very foundations" of the site, the BBC reported. As a result, the Wikimedia Foundation has banned seven editors from mainland China and removed administrator privileges from another 12, Wikimedia VP of Community Maggie Dennis wrote in a blog post.
Wikimedians of Mainland China accused the foundation of "baselessly slandering a small group of people".
"This case is unprecedented in scope," foundation vice-president Maggie Dennis said, in a note to volunteers.
And she told BBC News the foundation had been investigating the infiltration of Chinese-language Wikipedia for nearly a year.
So far, media coverage of the bans has differed wildly between pro-Beijing and Western sources. According to the Global Times, a daily tabloid newspaper controlled by the Chinese Communist Party, the incident amounted to a “well-calculated suppression” of mainland Chinese editors. Meanwhile, the BBC noted in an article that the threat of capture by the CCP was a risk that “threatened the very foundations of Wikipedia.”
However, Dennis said that the personal safety of members in Mainland China was at risk. "While some time ago we limited the exposure of personal information to users in mainland China, we know that there has been the kind of infiltration we describe above in the project," she wrote. "And we know that some users have been physically harmed as a result. With this confirmed, we have no choice but to act swiftly and appropriately in response."
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