Beijing, May 9: China plans to launch its own online encyclopedia next year, hoping to build a cultural 'Great Wall' that can rival Wikipedia as an information source for Chinese Internet users who Beijing fears are being corrupted by foreign influences. So far over 20,000 scholars and academics have been enlisted to compile the project, which aims to have more than 300,000 entries by its 2018 launch.
This project is led by the Communist Party's central propaganda department. It tries to form public opinion through instructions to China's media, internet companies and publishing industry. It also oversees education. The department has instructed the Encyclopedia of China Publishing House to produce the project.
Top editor at the Encyclopedia of China Publishing House, Jiang Lijun said that her group plans to write entries on political leaders, the history of the Communist Party, and subjects including virtual reality, artificial intelligence and the European Union.
Jiang also said the encyclopedia will write entries about subjects that are less likely to change, or with academic value, rather than current events. However, she said they will try to “strike a balance between. Being timely and what people are searching for."
Jiang chose not to comment on how the website would present events that are politically sensitive in China. These include the Cultural Revolution and the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
Notably, China also regularly blocks overseas sites, including Facebook and Twitter. It also has blocked Wikipedia's English and Chinese versions at times.