Trying to understand China’s view on Bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and Blockchain has become a huge task in recent months. Earlier this year the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) announced that “it would block access to all domestic and foreign cryptocurrency exchanges and ICO websites.” Yet, since the ban on was implemented, crypto activity in the country has actually remained high. It has led to many – including the Bitcoin Foundation’s Bobby Lee – to back the idea that China will eventually lift the ban and create its own licensing system in the process. Such a drastic move might not be realistic right now, but a statement made by China Central Television (CCTV) – the country’s primary state broadcaster – certainly has many people wondering.
A Thinking Man’s Panel
CCTV, which unsurprisingly commands a huge audience in China, has said that the economic value of blockchain is “10 times more than that of the internet.” During a segment titled “Dialogue”, which aired on the network’s dedicated Finance Channel, Chen Weihong hosted an hour-long discussion on Blockchain. This marks one of the first times that discussions related to Blockchain, its potential, and its risks have aired on Chinese state television. Showing a surprisingly open mind to Blockchain and its capabilities, the discussion even featured well-known Blockchain Revolution author Don Tapscott. He featured alongside Chen Lie (Xunlei CEO) and Zhang Shoucheng (Danhua Capital founder and Stanford University professor).
An Overdue Debate
Chen and Tapscott started the groundbreaking discussion by explaining exactly what Blockchain is and the concept behind it. Following that, Weihing suggested that Bitcoin was effectively the second incarnation of the Internet, with it carrying 10 times the value of its predecessor. Speaking about the comparable values between the Internet and Blockchain, Shoucheng said, “While the real value of the internet is aggregating individual pieces of information into one place, which is exactly what Google and Facebook does, we are now entering an era where information is being decentralized so that individuals can own their individual data. And that’s the real value of blockchain that makes it exciting.”
Pros and Cons
Quite surprisingly, this televised Blockchain debate heralded plenty of positives. However, the program was not afraid to divulge common Blockchain criticisms, including its current embryonic technology and the wild west nature of the ICO market. What was addressed specifically was how many fraudulent ICOs have aggressively targeted investors using flashy marketing slogans and proposals. In most cases these ICOs actually represent pyramid schemes – or in worst cases – outright theft. While some of the criticism levied at Blockchain during the discussion might have been harshly worded, it can generally be considered fair. CCTV was also quick to point out that as a network it had been a pivotal figure in the country’s efforts to scrutinize and stomp out cryptocurrency projects in China.
China Wakes Up
CCTV has reported in recent weeks that ICO sales in the country are “rampant”, in spite of the government’s 2017 ban on all ICO activity. It appears that the ban is falling short of its targets, which explains why the subject of Blockchain technology is now being broached on state-run television. Will this be the spark that leads to the Chinese cryptocurrency ban being reversed? We highly doubt it, but there is no denying that such a discussion on a national platform is a step in the right direction.