Last week Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales sat down for a powwow with Cai Mingzhao, Vice Director of China’s State Council Information Office — the body that oversees China’s Internet censorship efforts including the Great Firewall. Strangely, the news broke on a Chinese government website, but Wales isn’t saying much about the meeting.
MacKinnon: Did you raise any concerns about the fact that, while the English and Chinese sites as a whole are unblocked, individual pages (for instance, pages about Falun Gong or the Tiananmen Crackdown) continue to be blocked?
Wales: Actually, in English, I was able to access those pages and similar ones. I am unsure about the exact current situation with respect to what pages are being filtered. Since I wasn’t sure of the exact details, and just due to the way the conversation went (more high level than about specific details), I didn’t raise this question.
MacKinnon: Did you say that you want those pages to be unblocked? Or are you cool with the fact that a few politically sensitive pages are blocked as long as most of Wikipedia is unblocked?
Wales: We didn’t discuss it. But, I am not cool with any censorship of Wikipedia. However, I do think it is much better for a few politically sensitive pages to be blocked than for everything to be blocked. And we will never cooperate with any blocking or censorship of neutral encyclopedic content.
So Wales didn’t raise or discuss the blocking of Wikipedia pages by the Chinese government. But at least we know he’s not “cool” with it.