Will the China of tomorrow run on the technology behind bitcoin?


·         President Xi Jinping told the Communist Party elite in October he wanted the country to be a ‘rule maker’ on blockchain technology and ever since state media has been bombarding the public with articles on the subject

·         One expert said it ‘could open a new chapter on the integration of governance and technology, if proved a reliable technology’


Jane Cai, South China Morning Post (China)

2 Dec, 2019


Blockchain, a new technology most associated with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, looks set to play a major role in China’s governance after receiving an endorsement by Chinese President Xi Jinping, observers say.


Speaking at a study session for members of the Politburo last month, Xi said blockchain would play “an important role in the next round of technological innovation and industrial transformation”, suggesting it will be central to the country’s race against the United States for technological supremacy.


According to a report by Xinhua, Xi called for China to become a world leader and “rule maker” in the field, saying blockchain had applications in the financial, manufacturing and public sectors.


While he did not mention state governance as a possible application, the Communist Party and governments at all levels are likely to see Xi’s comments as a call to action.


People’s Daily, the party’s mouthpiece, ran an editorial on its website days after Xi’s speech, saying “officials and party cadres must understand that the top leadership attaches high importance to blockchain technology due to the prospects of its application in the real economy, people’s livelihood and the state governance”.


Since then, state media has been bombarding the public with articles about blockchain and the need to embrace the technology.


On November 24, authorities in Deqing, a small city in the eastern province of Zhejiang became the first in the country to host an international blockchain summit. Zhang Feng, chief engineer at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said in his keynote speech at the event that China would seek to establish a national committee for blockchain standards and prioritise research into developing applications for it.


Mu Rongping, director of the innovation and development research centre at the Chinese Academy of Sciences said blockchain was likely to become a key feature in China’s future governance...