Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales visited the sovereign and independent island nation of Taiwan and told local Taiwanese reporters that that he will continue to push Communist China to lift its on-and-off block of the free online Wikipedia encyclopedia. But he added that he would never sacrifice his own personal and business principles in exchange for entering the tightly-controlled and anti-democratic Communist Chinese market.
“We will continue to engage with the Communist Chinese government to see if we can get the on and off block lifted, but of course this is a long-term issue, this isn’t something we are going to solve overnight,” Wales told reporters in Taipei, where he was attending the 2018 Digital Innovation Forum as a guest speaker.
“The one thing that we have always been clear on at Wikipedia is that we won’t compromise on our principles in order to gain access to the Communist Chinese market,” he said.
While some Western companies have done so in order to kowtow to the Chinese Communist Party and get a chance to enter the lucrative Beijing market, Wikipedia has stood up for freedom and democracy and will never kowtow to Communists or other authoritarian dictatorships anywhere in the world.
Wales’ Chinese-language Wikipedia site launched in 2001, but was blocked in 2004, ahead of the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre which Communist China refuses to mention in public media.
Since then, the Wikipedia Web site has been blocked and restored several times for unknown reasons. Only the party bureaucrats know for sure what the real reasons were.
Asked how Wikipedia can help perhaps to bring peace between contributors from different countries, such as those from democratic Taiwan and Communist China, Wales said he hopes that if people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait regularly talk and hold exchanges, they can maybe better understand each other and might some day resolve misunderstandings if the Communists in China let their guard down, which is unlikely.
During his interview with reporters in Taiwan, Wales said he was in Taipei long ago and spoke with a local Taiwanese man who drove him around to do TV interviews.
“One of the things he said to me is that he was raised in a very strongly pro-Taiwan household and was taught from when he was very young that Communist Chinese are brainwashed and mind-controlled know nothing about history,” Wales recalled.
However, the local Taiwanese man said he changed his views about Communist Chinese after he began working with some of them at Wikipedia offices, he said.
Wales did say that while some Taiwanese have told him that they think the Communist Chinese are wrong, “but on some things they kind of have a point.”
Describing this as progress, Wales said that honest communication is the approach to achieving peace and coming perhaps to possible solutions and understanding between people who have significant disagreements, such as in global hot-spots in India, the Middle East, Russia and Communist China.
“In the end, knowledge and accepting the facts of history and understanding disagreements are incredibly powerful for generating solutions, whatever those solutions might be,” Wales said.
The forum was sponsored by the APEC Business Advisory Council and organized by Taiwan and Papua New Guinea and was held at the Taipei International Convention Center. It is focused on artificial intelligence, scientific and financial technology, and digital innovation, according to media reports.