China’s Ongoing Love Affair with BlockchainBesides thriving across the private sector, blockchain technology has also endeared itself to the Chinese government. Ever since President Xi gave its ringing endorsement, the government has made several moves to cement the technology as a mainstay in its economic plan — including a blockchain platform used by the Bank of China to enhance efficiency across the insurance industry. At the China International Import Expo on November 7, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce, Shanghai Customs, and representatives of six banks across the city signed on to join the Blockchain Alliance — a consortium that will help utilize blockchain for enhancing various aspects of international trade. The Chinese government is also set to spend $2 billion on developing the country’s blockchain infrastructure by 2023. This, as well as the massive investments being made by private sector giants such as Huawei and Alibaba, means that blockchain has come to stay in China.
Alipay and ‘Blockchain, Not Bitcoin’Unlike blockchain technology, cryptocurrencies have been outlawed in China. Private companies have distanced themselves from them, with names such as Alipay and Alibaba recently denouncing prospective partnerships that would have seen them interact with Bitcoin. As for the government, it’s stance — which many have dubbed ‘Blockchain, not Bitcoin’ — has been clearly communicated. Authorities in Beijing, Shenzhen, and Shanghai have conducted sweeping investigations into suspected activities of cryptocurrency exchanges in those regions, with several companies already being ordered to shut down their operations and pack up shop for good. With the way things are going, more cities are set to have similar investigations. Whether or not this is just a precaution to ensure that nothing stands in the way of the proposed state cryptocurrency or not, the Chinese government is sending a message that Bitcoin isn’t welcome.
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