China prepares to launch Wikipedia rival by 2018

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China to launch own Wikipedia by 2018
China to launch own Wikipedia by 2018

Beijing : China has hired more than 20,000 people to build the country's online version of national encyclopaedia to compete with Wikipedia, media reports said.

The Chinese Wikipedia will be launched in 2018 and will feature 300,000 entries at about 1,000 words each, the BBC reported.

The Wikipedia of China will be created by select scholars from state-run universities unlike the original Wikipedia that is openly editable by volunteers.

Currently, Wikipedia is available in China but some of its contents are blocked.

"The Encyclopaedia of China is not a book but a Great Wall of culture," the report quoted Yang Muzhi, the editor-in-chief of the project, as saying.

According to Muzhi, China faces international pressure to produce its own platform to guide "the public and society".

The Encyclopaedia of China already exists in paper form that was first published in 1993. Its second edition was released in 2012.

However, the government has been accused of distorting and omitting facts and some entries for political purposes.

"The need for information in China makes people use Wikipedia through the usual anti-filtering tools and this is far from ideal for an authoritarian state. 

"So, this initiative is to attract more users towards the state-approved content," said Taha Yasseri, a research fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. 

Last week, Turkish authorities banned access to Wikipedia in the country without giving any particular reasons.

Aiming to provide better information about the country than what was already available on the Wikipedia, Russia in 2014 announced plans for an alternative version of the online encyclopaedia.