China is planning to launch their own online encyclopedia by next year to guide public thought. Developers hope that they will build a ‘cultural Great Wall’ to compete Wikipedia as a go-to information source for Chinese Internet users.
Wikipedia and Britain’s Encyclopaedia Britannica are available in China and developers to have the aim to beat them. Unlike Wikipedia and its Chinese version Baidu Baike, the new project will be entirely written by professionals.
The encyclopedia will be based on a previously printed version of a book, which was published in 1993. A second edition which can be accessed through a special terminal was released in 2009.
The project’s executive editor Yang Muzhi said, “China is under pressure to write its own encyclopedia so it can guide public thought.”
“The project, which will be under the guidance of the state-owned China Publishing Group, must have Chinese characteristics. It would be a “symbol of the country’s cultural and technological development” and increase its soft power and international influence.”
Almost 20,000 scholars and academics have been enlisted to compile the project. Developers aimed to have more than 300,000 entries by its 2018 launch.
Currently, China has more than 700 million internet users. According to by the US think tank Freedom House, the country has the most restrictive online use policies of 65 nations it studied.
It has managed its various forms of web censorship called the Great Firewall that is important for protecting national security.
Sites blocked due to their content or sensitivity, among them, Facebook and Twitter, cannot be accessed in China without special software that allows users to bypass the strict controls.
Beijing issued a new restriction on online freedoms, requiring Chinese Internet users to provide their real names when accessing online news sources.