The State Council of China, which has often given the impression of being very anti-cryptocurrency, has officially ordered local financial authorities to focus on and accelerate the development and commercialisation of blockchain technology.
The government made its intentions clear last week with the following statement:
“To build a regional equity market in Guangdong, according to the opening up of the capital market, timely introduction of Hong Kong, Macao and international investment institutions to participate in transactions. We will vigorously develop financial technology and accelerate the research and application of blockchain and big data technologies under the premise of legal compliance.”
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China was once the powerhouse of Bitcoin, both in terms of trading and mining, and four of the ten biggest cryptocurrency exchanges in the world are from there. However, government crackdowns have decimated the private industry. It is illegal to hold an ICO or trade on a cryptocurrency exchange. China was responsible for the vast majority of Bitcoin mining, but these operations were told to leave, and banks were ordered to stop all funding to cryptocurrency operations.
Only last month, police busted a major cryptocurrency conference, leaving attendees standing around confused as to what to do.
At the same time, however, the government is eager to promote the development of blockchain technology on its own terms – for example with projects like NEO, which is touted by some to be the new Ethereum. Qtum is another example of China looking to make its version of what is fast becoming a staple of Western technology.
It has been funding multi-billion dollar blockchain initiatives such as the Global Blockchain Innovation Fund, which cost the Hangzhou city government $1.6 billion, according to CCN. Another example is the Guangdong Pilot Free Trade Zone, an area that houses 71 blockchain startups.