Is China intensifying its crackdown on cryptocurrencies?October 10, 2018
China has shut down numerous blockchain-related news accounts on the WeChat social app, and banned hotels in downtown Beijing from hosting events promoting cryptocurrencies, in a renewed crackdown on activities related to the digital money.
At least eight blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused online media outlets – some of which raised several million dollars in venture capital – found their official public accounts on WeChat blocked on Tuesday evening, due to violations against new regulations from China’s top internet watchdog.
Separately, Beijing’s central Chaoyang district issued a notice on August 17 banning hotels, office buildings and shopping malls in the area from hosting events promoting cryptocurrencies.
A staffer with Chaoyang’s financial authority said the notice was triggered by a local event organized by an overseas cryptocurrency exchange last week, and is restricted to the district in question.
Despite government initiatives on adopting blockchain, the central government has made it clear that it does not want retail investors to get involved in cryptocurrencies because of concerns over financial stability.
Just like other Chinese news services, these platforms rely heavily on WeChat to reach audiences aside from their apps and websites.
The blocked accounts on WeChat come from some of the most popular blockchain news platforms including Jinse Caijing and Huobi News, whose apps and sites are still in operation.
Jingse Caijing, which started in 2016 and now boasts 350,000 unique daily visitors, raised more than 8 million yuan (US$1.2 million) from Beijing-based Node Capital in a pre-series A round last August.
Jingse Caijing publishes more than 200 articles per day.
In March, a commentary published by the website of the People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, accused blockchain news outlets of creating articles to manipulate cryptocurrency prices and promote ICO projects.
Government officials in China have been asked to wield a policy axe on the cryptocurrency. This means that they will cite or promulgate regulation to limit various aspects of bitcoin mining, including electricity consumption, land use, tax collection, and environmental regulation.
To be sure, China’s crackdown is not a bolt from the blue. Several prominent bitcoin mining operations have already moved out …