Bill Roscoe, Professor of Oxford University, speaks at the Inauguration of Oxford University Blockchain Research Centre in Haikou city on south China's Hainan province. Photo: AFP / ImagineChina

South China’s Hainan province has become the host of the country’s first official blockchain pilot zone.

The project, based at the Hainan Resort Software Community (RSC), includes a blockchain research institute, according to Xinhua. The zone has been jointly established by the RSC and England’s University College Oxford Blockchain Research Centre. In another collaboration, with Beijing’s Renmin University, RSC will also launch its own blockchain innovation center.

Manager of Hainan’s Provincial Department of Industry and Information Technology, Wang Jing, said at the zone’s launch that it is committed to “attracting blockchain talent around the world and exploring the application of blockchain in areas such as cross-border trade, inclusive finance and credit rating,” before adding that the zone will deepen ties with top research and development institutes across the globe. The anticipation is that international talent will flock to China to work in the fledgling industry and bring the country to the forefront of blockchain innovation.

There are already major efforts underway from big players in the industry but due to China’s ongoing crackdown on crypto-currencies, which are mostly powered by blockchain technology, many have moved overseas. Others, however, seem unperturbed, such as Chinese entrepreneur, Justin Sun, founder of the Tron Foundation, who believes his own blockchain platform will usurp Ethereum.

Chinese tech giants such as, Baidu and Alibaba are also delving into the industry with their own blockchain based products and solutions. Last month announced the launch of its new blockchain platform which will allow commercial clients to develop applications and smart contract-based systems. It is very similar to Amazon’s own AWS platform which itself competes with services from IBM, R3, and JP Morgan.

China isn’t the only Asian nation on the blockchain train; South Korea is also in on the action as it has recently touted its own Jeju Island as a blockchain and crypto-currency haven. Last month local officials said “Blockchain is an opportunity for Korea to take the lead in global internet platform (development),” while proposing the project to the government.

Singapore is also in the race and seems to be in front at the moment, especially with cryptocurrencies since a large number of Chinese crypto startups have relocated to the island nation to avoid the heavy-handed approach by Beijing.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world's first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now.