Nearly a year after the government banned initial coin offerings and shut down domestic cryptocurrency exchanges, it is again tightening the screws on the industry.
The Great Firewall, extended to crypto: Censors have blocked a number of blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused accounts from WeChat, the popular social media service. WeChat, as well as online payment service Ant Financial, announced that it will restrict or ban cryptocurrency-related transactions. Authorities will block access to 124 websites operated by offshore cryptocurrency exchanges that had provided trading services to Chinese users, reports the South China Morning Post. And, according to other local reports, Baidu will restrict or ban cryptocurrency-related content on its Reddit-like discussion platform.
Canceled conferences: Financial regulators have instructed stores, hotels, and other businesses in downtown Beijing not to host cryptocurrency-related speeches, events, or activities.
But blockchains are fine: Despite all this, “many industry insiders” tell the Wall Street Journal that blockchain technology is still thriving in China. The government recognizes its long-term value, Jehan Chu, cofounder of a Hong Kong–based cryptocurrency investment firm, told the Journal. “Instead, they're trying to reform it and clean it up so they can roll it out in China the way they rolled out the internet, their own way with their own rules.” In other words, it’s not that the Chinese government doesn’t like blockchains—it just doesn’t like blockchains it can’t control.