China is getting its own state-sponsored Wikipedia next year

china, firewall, vpn
Credit: Keith Roper / Flickr

It’s been nearly 13 years since the Chinese government first blocked Wikipedia across the country, following which its ban has been lifted and restored several times, mostly owing to concerns around censorship.

Now, in a bid to offer a similar service while maintaining control over what’s published, the government is building its own online encyclopedia – and it’s hiring 20,000 people to do it.

Yang Muzhi, the editor-in-chief of the project and the chairman of the Book and Periodicals Distribution Association of China, described the Chinese Encyclopedia as ‘a Great Wall of culture’.

The web-based resource will serve to showcase “China’s latest science and technology developments, promote historical heritage, increase cultural soft power, and strengthen the core values of socialism.”

It’ll take the efforts of scores of scholars and researchers to put together by 2018, as they’re tasked with writing up more than 300,000 entries of about 1,000 words apiece spanning over 100 disciplines.

This is one of the largest projects to chronicle a nation’s achievements and history on the planet. However, it isn’t clear if the Chinese Encyclopedia will be translated into international languages or available to readers outside the Great Firewall of China. Hopefully, people from around the world will be able to flip through its pages next year.

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