Shanghai Man: Bitcoin interest drops in China amid crackdown on social media and miners

This weekly roundup of news from Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong attempts to curate the industry’s most important news, including influential projects, changes in the regulatory landscape, and enterprise blockchain integrations.

This week, following a tumultuous few weeks of regulation, the Bitcoin world’s focus shifted to Miami and Latin America. Searches for Bitcoin on China’s most popular social media app WeChat stabilized between 1-3 million per day, a stark difference from the peaks of over 10 million that were seen in late May.

Weibo and Baidu half pulls the plug

Baidu, China’s dominant search engine, restricted searches for exchanges Binance, Huobi, and OKEx early in the week. Typically, large internet companies work under the watchful eye of government and party officials, making this move somewhat expected. Filtering out keywords isn’t always the most effective solution, as searches for “Binance App Download” would still take users to the requested link. It’s worth pointing out that the government has limited authority in these cases since most of these big exchanges, particularly Binance, are registered in other countries and have a limited physical presence in China.

More effective was the silencing of cryptocurrency influencer accounts on micro-blogging platform Weibo. According to reports in Cointelegraph, at least a dozen accounts were suspended with a message that they had violated relevant laws and guidelines. This can have a much more sobering impact on the Chinese cryptocurrency community as influencers are often a primary source of information, especially for users who don’t access traditional western social media platforms.

Western province slams door on miners

On June 9, a district government in western Xinjiang issued a “notice to immediately suspend virtual currency mining enterprises.” The report announced that companies engaged in digital currency mining must halt production by 2PM on June 9 and report the suspension to a local reform commission. This resulted in significant drops in global hashing power, with Chinese-backed Ant Pool dropping by more than 30%. The last month has seen a bevy of regulations against mining companies as China prepares to try and meet carbon emissions goals. Miners are still scrambling to adjust to new regulations with many heading to more lenient countries like neighboring Kazakhstan.

In it for the technology

The Monetary Authority of Singapore announced it has received over 300 applications for crypto payments and exchange licenses. Singapore is a common location for Chinese companies to domicile as it is home to a thriving FinTech sector but remains close to the mainland, both in terms of geography and cultural ties. One of the companies disclosed was internet giant Alibaba. Alibaba has come under the microscope back in China for it lending practices, so it’s no surprise that Alibaba and other Chinese companies might want to diversify their financial offerings in other regulatory regions.

Accelerating the pace of change

On June 7, China’s high-ranking Ministry of Industry and Information Technology issued guidelines on accelerating the application of blockchain technology in the industrial sector. It targeted 2025 as the year that blockchain should penetrate fields such as supply chain management and traceability for internationally competitive enterprises. This will be of interest to a number of public and private chains that are able to develop within the confines of the Chinese regulatory framework. Despite cryptocurrency facing strong backlash, the Chinese government hasn’t backed down from its hopes for blockchain to be a driver of economic growth in the country.

For those looking to better understand China’s ambitions in this area, government-backed BSN hosted a webinar about China’s pursuits in emerging technologies. China technology experts Winston Ma and Paul Schulte covered a number of topics including blockchain, central bank digital currencies and even some more controversial geo-political issues. Cointelegraph’s Man in Shanghai himself was on hand to moderate, keeping an unbiased eye on things.

Bank on it

On June 8, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority released a “Fintech 2025” strategy to enhance research on a central bank digital currency. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is working with the Innovation Hub of the National Bank for Settling and Clearing to bring a central bank digital currency to the retail level. This area is an interesting space to watch to determine how the e-HKD will be similar to the e-CNY, and what that means for the financial future of the region.


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Baidu, Weibo Censoring Crypto Exchanges

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Chinese social media giant Weibo reportedly bans crypto-related accounts

China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies has reportedly spread to social media. Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging service with over 530 million monthly active users, has reportedly suspended several popular Bitcoin (BTC) and crypto-related content creators on the platform.

According to local reports, at least a dozen crypto influencers on Weibo have been unable to use their accounts on Saturday night. Weibo greeted other users who visited suspended accounts with a message saying the banned accounts have violated Weibo guidelines and “relevant laws and regulations.”

A Weibo user nicknamed Woman Dr. bitcoin mini, who saw her account was blocked on Saturday, called Weibo’s action a Judgment Day crypto influencers.

NYU law school adjunct professor and former China Investment Corporation managing director Winston Ma said, “The Chinese government makes it clear that no Chinese version of Elon Musk can exist in the Chinese crypto market.”

The academic was alluding to Elon Musk’s controversial influence over cryptocurrency markets on social media. 

Ma also expects China’s supreme court to publish a judicial interpretation soon that may link crypto mining and trading businesses with China’s body of criminal law, according to reports.

The government’s negative stance on crypto has echoed across all parts of the industry in China. After Beijing authorities started investigating crypto mining data centers’ energy consumption in April, Bitcoin mining became a risky operation in the country. Major miners have since announced that they will end their operations in the country.

Last week, financial regulators in China’s Hainan province warned citizens about illegal fundraising campaigns that use digital currency or blockchain as promotion material, stating that illicit token issuance and financing activities are forbidden.

Cointelegraph reached out to Weibo for comment and will update this article should they respond.