s far as China is concerned, blockchain and all its technologies have just received the highest profile endorsement it could’ve possibly received.
Just a few days ago (Oct 24), Chinese President Xi Jinping made a speech declaring that blockchain was an important technology for the future and that China needed to accelerate the development of the technology across the country in multiple sectors.
“We must take the blockchain as an important breakthrough for independent innovation of core technologies,” Xi told committee members in his Thursday speech.
The response across the country was a reignited interest in blockchain for some and a curiosity of blockchain technology for many more.
The Chinese search engine, Baidu, had the word “blockchain’ searched over 72,000 times on Friday Oct 25, a day after the speech. WeChat the largest messaging app in China had over 3.3 million searches on its platform for the word “blockchain” the same day, both word searches increased over the weekend, before tapering off Sunday.
Some of China’s top universities began rolling blockchain courses out overnight after Xi’s statements and more than one hundred Chinese companies connected to blockchain had their stock values soar by their 10 per cent daily limit on the country’s stock exchanges.
While the overnight hype for blockchain in China is great news, the future isn’t certain for what benefits will come of it. China is no doubt a leader in emerging technologies, but the vision of blockchain from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may be different from the ideas of the common crypto fan.
The CCP has typically used a model of, aggressive pursuit of technology, with tight controls and this may conflict with the overall decentralized ideals of many blockchain enthusiasts.
It was only in March of this year that the head of the technology unit at China’s Securities Regulatory Commission, Zhang Ye, said that though he believed in the potential of blockchain, the only way to fully achieve its benefits would be to rely on a centralized infrastructure.
“Blockchain’s advocates for absolute decentralization have no solid ground, because [blockchain] itself is a software developed in a centralized way. So is the public key infrastructure, which remains an important feature adopted by blockchain,”
With all this considered, it should be worth noting that “bitcoin” searches saw a 5 per cent dip on both Baidu and WeChat Oct 25 but picked up considerably a day after, hitting above 200 per cent increase of searches on Baidu.
Bitcoin itself saw 30 per cent growth over the same weekend, with the bitcoin price hitting above $10,000 BTC/USD. At the time of writing the price has held steady at $9,500 BTC/USD. However, despite the commitment to blockchain China has an active ban on cryptocurrencies and on crypto mining operations in the country.
China does have plans to roll out a digital yuan, but it has already been speculated that this will function quite differently from the traditional cryptocurrency many are used to. It will also follow the guidelines of a centralized model.
With China now attempting to take the lead with blockchain, it should be interesting to watch if any other nation will step up to compete with the technological giant. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg has even suggested that if his project Libra does not go forward it could mean losing a race of innovation to China.