Gitee, China’s answer to GitHub, temporarily shuts down public code repositories for review work

May 20, 2022 0 Comments

Gitee, China’s answer to GitHub, said on May 18 that it would temporarily shut down public code repositories for review work.

“All new open-source repositories shall be manually reviewed before they are officially made public. For those already opened, we’ll temporarily make them private and make them public again after review,” Gitee said in a statement on Zhihu, a Quora-like question-and-answer platform. 

“We have no choice but to do so,” the statement wrote, without detailing any specific reason. “We have increased technical and human inputs for review, speed up progress and try to ensure a positive experience for every developer,” it said.

Some developers say that the review will cool down their enthusiasm for contributing to open source projects and hinders Gitee from being a better open-source platform. “Review is incompatible with the ethos of open-source, and Gitee will never be a global open-source platform,” an indie developer with 10 years of experience said.

Founded in 2013 by Shenzhen-based Open Source China, Gitee claims to be China’s largest platform for hosting open-source code. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology picked it as one of the country’s “trustees” of open-source code. 

The platform is used by 8 million programmers and hosts more than 20 million projects, according to Gitee’s website. By comparison, GitHub, the world’s dominant open-source code platform founded in 2008, has more than 83 million users and 200 million projects on it.

While Gitee did not specify what led to the censorship efforts, some suspect it may be down to Chinese authorities tightening censorship on cyberspace. GitHub was temporarily blocked by Chinese authorities in 2013 due to some users posting politically sensitive content on it.

Self-reliance in the tech industry is important in China, where relations with the U.S. have grown increasingly tense in recent years. In March, Figma stopped providing services to DJI in response to U.S. government sanction order, further fueling the thoughts of adopting more China-made software services among Chinese tech companies. So if GitHub leaves China, Gitee could become a plan B for Chinese developers. 

Cover image by Safar Safarov on Unsplash

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