2021 Wikimedia Foundation actions on the Chinese Wikipedia

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

The 2021 Wikimedia Foundation actions on the Chinese Wikipedia are official actions taken by the Wikimedia Foundation in the Chinese Wikipedia, and announced on 13 September by the Vice President of Community Resilience & Sustainability for the Legal department, Maggie Dennis. In the actions, the foundation locked seven accounts with additional privileges such as Administrator and Bureaucrat, and removed these privileges from 12 additional users after looking deep into the Wikimedians of Mainland China.[1][2] Four of the top ten most active administrators had their privileges revoked.[3]


Maggie Dennis said that the Chinese Wikipedia was under investigation by the foundation for nearly one year.[4] According to the news report of Hong Kong Free Press, two Chinese Wikipedia users, Walter Grassroot and 城市酸儒文人挖坑, threatened Hong Kong Wikipedians, saying that they would report them to the Hong Kong national security police [zh],[5] but Wikimedians of Mainland China denied this.[1] In August 2021, the foundation modified the security terms in the access to nonpublic personal data policy, and oversighters from mainland China were asked to resign.[citation needed]

For the second time, the People's Republic of China used Taiwan as an excuse to prevent the Wikimedia Foundation from applying to become an observer of World Intellectual Property Organization in October 2021. A Wikipedian showed a screenshot to Voice of America, referring to the announcement made by one of the globally locked users "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 Wikipedians submitted relevant documents to the Chinese Embassy in Geneva through various channels such as the media. Walter Grassroot also pointed out that the failure of the foundation's application is a piece of good news.[6]


In an announcement on Wikimedia about the actions, Maggie Denis 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 launch this action after Maggie Dennis told the media that editors had tried to manipulate the content of the articles and the election of administrators and that other editors had been physically harmed. However, she did not intend to accuse the Chinese government.[7][2][Note 1]

In response, Wikimedians of Mainland China posted "Cast Away Illusions, Prepare For Struggle — WMC’s First Open Letter on the Recent Office Action" on Qiuwen [zh], accusing the Wikimedia Foundation of blocking users for a groundless reason (莫須有) and declaring its intention to resist the crackdown with practical action.[1][8][9] The Global Times alleged that the Wikimedia Foundation is "purging" the Chinese editors.[10]

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."[11][12]

Jimmy Wales, the co-founder 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."[13]

Subsequent events[edit]

On October 7, 2021, at the 62nd session of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), 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". China was the only country out of the 193 members of the organization to vote against the WIPO application,[14] causing the Wikimedia Foundation to fail.[15]


  1. ^ a b c 陳冠榮. "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". TechNews 科技新報 (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 2021-09-16. Retrieved 2021-09-15.
  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 2021-09-17. Retrieved 2021-09-18.
  3. ^ a b 鄭樂捷 (2021-09-15). "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 2021-09-15. Retrieved 2021-09-15.
  4. ^ "Wikipedia blames pro-China infiltration for bans". BBC News. 2021-09-16. Archived from the original on 2021-09-18. Retrieved 2021-09-16.
  5. ^ Cheng, Selina (2021-07-14). "Hong Kong Wikipedia editors take precautions amid fears mainland peers may report users to national security police". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Retrieved 2021-09-20.
  6. ^ 郑乐捷 (2021-10-07). "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 2021-10-07.
  7. ^ "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 2021-09-17. Retrieved 2021-09-18.
  8. ^ "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 2021-09-15. Retrieved 2021-09-15.
  9. ^ 观察者网 (2021-09-17). "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 2021-09-18.
  10. ^ "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 2021-09-18. Retrieved 2021-09-18.
  11. ^ "Tech Tent: Wikipedia's editing war". BBC.
  12. ^ "Tech Tent - what next for Wikipedia?". BusinessGhana. 18 September 2021.
  13. ^ "Wikipedia in Chinese editing war of words". BBC. Retrieved 2021-11-19.
  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. 2021-10-07.
  15. ^ Moody, Glyn (2021-10-07). "If You Want To Know Why Section 230 Matters, Just Ask Wikimedia: Without It, There'd Be No Wikipedia". Techdirt. Retrieved 2021-10-23.


  1. ^ Chinese: 我不能够就此将矛头指向中国政府

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