China’s relationship with Bitcoin is almost exactly six years old, or at least its public one is, and in that time it has done a complete 180 in its affections for the big white ₿. The transformation has been quite incredible – from outright ban to acknowledgement that it is the “first successful application of blockchain technology”. The dizzying change of heart is akin to a Hollywood romcom, with China playing the strict father and Bitcoin playing the wayward young man who has designs on his A-grade daughter.
We may be some way from the wedding (and in all likelihood we will never actually get there), but it’s worth reviewing how we got to the current love-in from the position of animosity that had existed for so long.
Bitcoin and China – a Love Story
December 5, 2013 – Having seen Chinese investment propel Bitcoin up towards $1,200, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) issues a blanket ban on banks handling Bitcoin-related transactions, cutting off the crucial supply of yen. The price dives 50% on the news.
March 21, 2014 – A subsequently false report in Chinese media suggests that the PBOC is considering halting all Bitcoin activity in the country.
May 12, 2014 – A paper from the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission suggests that China is actively suppressing and shutting down Bitcoin exchanges.
August 12, 2014 – A report in The Register goes behind the scenes of China’s booming Bitcoin mining business.
August 22, 2015 – A report by Coindesk states that China accounts for 50% of Bitcoin mining, noting that there has been no official communication on Bitcoin since the ban in 2013.
November 2, 2015 – Bitcoin Magazine notes that Chinese Bitcoin business is “experiencing unprecedented amounts of growth” and is “leading the charge” as Bitcoin enjoys one of its fastest ever spikes.
September 4, 2017 – Chinese regulators ban ICOs, with ICO platforms to be investigated.
September 9, 2017 – China announces plans to shutter crypto exchanges. Bitcoin crashes 50%.
February 5, 2018 – China prohibits citizens from trading Bitcoin on any exchange, foreign or domestic.
July 9, 2018 – The Next Web reports that China hails its crypto crackdown a “complete success” with 88 exchanges closed and others, such as Binance, forced to relocate.
November 8, 2018 – PBOC report shows attempts to prevent Chinese citizens receiving crypto airdrops.
November 20, 2018 – Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology calls on country to “accelerate” blockchain standards.
March 7, 2019 – The Wall Street Journal warns that China is “racing ahead of the United States on blockchain”.
April 5, 2019 – China publishes list of registered blockchain firms.
April 9, 2019 – The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in China puts crypto mining on a list of industrial activities the government wants to phase out.
October 26, 2019 – Chinese president Xi Jinping personally endorses blockchain technology.
November 6, 2019 – NDRC removes crypto mining from its list of harmful industries.
November 11, 2019 – Chinese state media announces that Bitcoin is “the first successful application of blockchain technology.”
Some Way Still to Go
While it’s clear that China still isn’t 100% sold on Bitcoin, as it still doesn’t like the idea of its citizens holding it, it’s clear that its stance has softened remarkably in line with its adoption of blockchain technology. Where we go from here no one knows, but one day, just one day, those two star crossed lovers will find a way to be together in harmony…