China launches blockchain research center in Beijing

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China has inaugurated a national blockchain research center in Beijing and unveiled plans to train 500,000 industry professionals.

Sanctioned by the Ministry of Science and Technology and led by the Beijing Academy of Blockchain and Edge Computing, the research center will collaborate with universities, research institutes and companies to provide training and support for China’s digital economy.

This network will connect existing blockchains within China and extend its support to various industries. The objective is to enhance the country’s digital infrastructure and promote the integration of blockchain technology in diverse sectors.

The Chinese government has actively promoted blockchain development since President Xi Jinping endorsed the technology in 2019. Recognizing blockchain’s potential, the Chinese State Council outlined it as one of seven major areas for the country’s digital economy in its five-year plan issued in 2021.

China differentiates between blockchain technology and digital assets, with the former receiving significant attention while the latter remains strictly regulated. China’s strict stance on cryptocurrencies remains unchanged. This includes the ban on trading within mainland China. However, NFTs have been allowed under the label of “digital collectibles” as long as they are purchased using the national currency and not resold for profit.

The government’s focus on blockchain primarily revolves around industrial applications and separating them from speculative digital assets. Regardless, the national blockchain research center’s launch signifies a strategic move to reinforce the country’s position in the global digital economy.

By training half a million professionals in blockchain technology, China aims to build a skilled workforce capable of spearheading blockchain initiatives across various sectors. The collaboration between academia, research institutes and companies is expected to facilitate knowledge transfer and accelerate the development of blockchain applications, further solidifying China’s dominance in this emerging field.

Hong Kong’s pursuit of Web3 development

Similarly, Hong Kong has embarked on its efforts to become a hub for Web3 development. The city has recently positioned itself as a virtual asset center by introducing regulations that classify cryptocurrencies as a new asset class.

Hong Kong has allocated HK$50 million to foster the growth of the Web3 industry and established a virtual asset task force under the leadership of the city’s finance chief.

Furthermore, a new mandatory licensing scheme for crypto exchanges, effective June 1, will allow retail investors to trade cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether. These initiatives have fueled speculation that Hong Kong could serve as a base for Chinese crypto-related activities.

Exchanges associated with mainland China, such as OKX and Huobi, have expressed plans to obtain licenses in Hong Kong, while some branches of mainland banks have started catering to crypto clients.

At the end of April, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority issued a circular instructing local banks to assist regulated virtual asset businesses with a “legitimate need for bank accounts.”

However, experts warn against misconstruing Hong Kong’s policies as indicative of a broader shift in mainland China’s stance on cryptocurrencies.

Zhou Chenggang, CEO and founder of CPIC Investment Management Hong Kong, emphasized the separation between policies, saying, “So far, the policies remain separate, and there have been no signals of that changing.”


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