The annual White Paper on the New Middle Class, published by financial writer and Zhejiang University professor, Wu Xiaobo, shines light on the spending and investing habits of China’s burgeoning middle class.Photo: iStock
China’s vibrant private sector is the nation’s biggest job creator and dominates industries such as tourism and retail. Photo: iStock

New research has revealed that Chinese investors are diversifying portfolios with the addition of digital assets. The findings come as Beijing continues to relentlessly clamp down on anything to do with the emerging industry.

According to the 2018 addition of the annual “White Paper on the New Middle Class” report, crypto-currency has been added as a new asset class occupying around 10% of people’s portfolios. The report said this is the first time it has included digital currencies as part of its metrics. Financial writer and university professor Wu Xiaobo, from Zhejiang University, publishes the paper in order to shine more light on the spending and investing habits of China’s burgeoning middle class.

The research suggests that this socio-demographic group is mostly risk-averse. Just over 9% of those surveyed stated that they accepted the risk of a loss over 15%. The report also surmises that with this in mind it is unlikely that the number investing in crypto-currencies will rise higher than 10% considering their wild volatility.

Since the beginning of 2018 Bitcoin and crypto-currency markets have crashed over 70% to their current levels. However, anybody that has done any research would know that this has happened several times before and things have always bounced back. There is also the fact that digital assets could become a form of wealth protection as in the case in Turkey and Venezuela where political upheaval and rampant inflation devalued national fiat currencies forcing citizens to turn to crypto.

The Chinese government has been battling to reduce the level of crypto-currency ownership within its borders. The People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has issued warning after warning on crypto and initial coin offerings (ICOs), which is not unusual considering the no central bank would be in favor of a decentralized currency which puts control back into the hands of the people.

Chinese citizens, who are well-used to their firmly interventionist central government, have quickly moved to direct peer-to-peer crypto trading channels as the exchanges have moved their operations overseas to avoid the crackdowns. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which can cost as little as $30 per year, are also being used in China to access exchanges hosted in other countries but blocked at home.

Beijing is now also censoring social media and chat apps such as WeChat to prevent the population reading about crypto-currencies. Chinese citizens, however, seem to continually find new ways to continue with their crypto habits.

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