China’s relentless crackdown on crypto-currencies continues, with Beijing now targeting social media accounts in an attempt to suppress even the discussion of digital assets.
A number of crypto- and blockchain-focused accounts on China’s most popular social platform, WeChat, have recently been shut down by the authorities. According to sg.news, closures have affected at least eight official accounts for crypto-related projects, some of which had already raised millions of dollars in crowd-funded investments for their blockchain projects.
WeChat operator Tencent said that it had come under pressure from the Cyberspace Administration of China and closed accounts which were “suspected of publishing information related to ICOs [initial coin offerings] and speculations on cryptocurrency trading.”
The censorship is part of China’s ongoing clampdown on anything crypto related, which has been going on since September 2017. Initially, crypto trading exchanges and initial coin offerings were outlawed, but the ban soon extended to online social media groups and peer-to-peer trading.
Crypto and blockchain companies rely heavily on social media such as Twitter to keep updates flowing in the fast-moving industry. Most of the world’s best-known social media platforms are blocked in China, where users have to revert to home grown platforms such as WeChat. Blockchain news outlets including Jinse Caijing and Huobi News were also blocked although their websites and services are still operating as usual.
The world’s fourth largest crypto exchange by trade volume, Beijing’s Huobi, reacted to its account closure stating that it was “broad action targeting industrial media.” Facing increasing pressure, Huobi relocated to crypto-friendly Singapore following China’s crypto ban. The company has also opened offices in London.
The report added that blockchain news outlets have attracted major venture capital in China. Over $US1.2 million was raised by Jinse Caijing last year, and it now has over 350,000 daily readers. Sponsored content from blockchain companies is the revenue source for this relatively new form of news media.
Despite its heavy-handedness in dealing with the crypto world, Beijing remains keen on the underlying blockchain technology, and is forging ahead with investment and research. Even as it does everything it can to prevent its own population from using or even reading about digital currencies, China clearly wants to develop a competitive edge in the blockchain industry.