On the surface, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the People’s Republic of China was not a crypto-friendly nation. Starting with an outright ban on domestic ICOs and local cryptocurrency exchanges last September, the Chinese governments’ stance hasn’t wavered since– even though other nations around the globe are finally warming up to cryptocurrencies.
In fact, in the latest round of clampdowns on cryptocurrency companies within China, at least eight major blockchain-focused online media outlets have had their WeChat accounts blocked. WeChat is by far China’s largest social media application with over 1 billion monthly users. The reason behind the account freeze? Alleged violations of new regulations issued by China’s primary internet watchdog.
Partial Crypto Advice and ICO Shilling
Among the list of companies with blocked accounts (many of which raised several millions of dollars in VC funding) is one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, Beijing-based Huobi. Along with its exchange, Huobi also runs ‘Huobi News’, one of the nations most visited crypto news platforms. Also finding their account blocked was popular cryptocurrency news site Jinse Caijing.
In a statement released by Tencent, WeChat’s primary operator, the company declared that these accounts had been shut down permanently as they are “suspected of publishing information related to ICOs and speculations on cryptocurrency trading.” According to new regulations issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China, all media within chat apps must comply with public orders and national interests.
Despite the ban on ICOs, media outlets publishing cryptocurrency news in China have flourished. They provide information on cryptocurrency prices, blockchain projects, and other crypto-related topics of interest. However, the Communist Party’s website, People’s Daily, published a statement back in March of this year accusing these so-called news outlets of publishing illegal content ‘related to up-and-coming ICOs’.
Moreover, a key revenue stream for these outlets is paid content from cryptocurrency and blockchain related projects. A featured article on Jingse Caijing, for example, is said to cost around 12 ETH (approx US$3,500 currently).
Does This Mean China Is Anti-Blockchain?
Despite claims of a “broad-action targeting industrial media” from Huobi News, China isn’t completely bearish on cryptocurrency and blockchain.
The government is concerned about the financial stability of its people and does not want retail investors to get involved with business ventures that ‘often turn out to be scams’. However, they continue to invest in and explore the possibilities of blockchain tech.
In fact, the Chinese Government is among one of the most ambitious regimes when it comes to tapping the potential of the blockverse. President Xi Jinping even has plans to convert the barren planes of the Xiongan New Area into a smart city of the future, bringing on ConsenSys as an official adviser.
Lastly, 30 percent of China’s Fortune 500 companies are actively exploring blockchain tech and even industry pioneers such as Anthony Di Iorio are looking towards China for their next projects. China is also home to more than 4,000 registered DLT and blockchain companies, compared to just 817 in the US and 335 in the UK.