China striving for a place in blockchain-defined future
Global Times


(Illustration: GT)

Behind the skyrocketing passion for blockchain, a buzzword that has penetrated Chinese social media over the past few days, is the nation's strategic vision: striving for a place in the financial world of the future. 

The passion that instantly translated into speculative bets in the equity and cryptocurrency markets is expected to trickle into the core competitiveness of the economy, which is and will be rivaling the US on multiple fronts. 

Blockchain is surely one of the most chic words and phrases in the rapidly evolving tech world, alongside artificial intelligence (AI) and big data. But unlike its more perceivable peers, blockchain has in most cases appeared to be a bewildering specter in the world's largest internet market. 

Nevertheless, there has been a sudden interest from the public about the obscure word, since the nation's top leadership espoused the development and application of blockchain technology at a group study session of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on Thursday.  

Online posts about what blockchain is about and which stocks fall under the category of blockchain shares have instantly made the rounds on WeChat and Weibo. Blockchain stocks across the Pacific have rallied and the bitcoin price has soared. In a striking example, NASDAQ-listed Chinese blockchain-related firm Xunlei saw its shares more than double on Friday before closing high, up over 18 percent on Monday.

 Blockchain shares in the Chinese mainland market also went crazy on Monday, with the blockchain sector, comprising more than 100 stocks, posting a gain of nearly 9 percent. 

The investing craze is indicative of the market's eagerness to capitalize on the nation's unprecedented endorsement of the technology. With the fall of peer-to-peer lending eclipsing fintech innovation and cryptocurrency trading, one of the most noted cases of blockchain usage, largely being linked to baseless speculation, the high-note push for blockchain development is apparently inspiring.

 Remarks by the top leadership elevating the role of blockchain technology in technological innovation and industrial transition have shown that the world's second-largest economy hinges future competitiveness on the buzzword. Additionally, the ensuing speech at a Shanghai financial forum on Monday by Huang Qifan, the outspoken former Chongqing mayor, revealed that China's central bank is likely to be the first to issue a digital currency. 

What's more, the country passed a cryptography law on Saturday. The new law to come into force on January 1, 2020 will regulate cryptography for both government and private uses. This apparently lays a legal foundation for the blockchain drive, considering that cryptography is a core component of blockchain technology.  

Having secured a leading position globally in mobile payment, with Alipay and WeChat Pay extending their reach into overseas markets, it's time for China to ready itself for a place in the future world featuring digital currency competition.

Trade tensions with the US have prompted a rethink of China-US economic ties. US sanctions on a number of Chinese technology firms have apparently indicated the vulnerabilities of a reliance on US supplies of core technologies. With fintech disrupting the traditional financial landscape and an increasing number of countries considering the launch of digital currencies, plans to embrace the next big thing in the completion playbook ought to prevail in China. That explains why the limelight has been put on blockchain. 

With Facebook's announcement of its Libra cryptocurrency in June and the most recent breakthrough claimed by Google in quantum computing, it seems the US is in an advantageous position to continue its financial dominance in the future.

 To prevent a continuance of US supremacy in the financial world of the future, China has upped its stakes to carve out its competitiveness in enabling blockchain-powered growth. After all, the US' dominance over the past few decades has increasingly favored the nation's self-serving protectionist intentions. 

Now all eyes are on China, which is staging an unprecedented competition against the US for a better, blockchain-defined future.