China has launched a national blockchain research centre in Beijing, with an ambitious goal to train 500,000 industry professionals. The facility, authorised by the Ministry of Science and Technology, intends to collaborate with educational institutions, research institutes, and businesses to cultivate talent and bolster China’s digital economy, as reported by Xinhua.
The China Blockchain Research Centre, spearheaded by the Beijing Academy of Blockchain and Edge Computing, also aims to create a national-level blockchain network connecting existing Chinese blockchains and supporting other sectors. The Beijing Academy is the government-supported institute behind China’s first homegrown open-source blockchain platform, ChainMaker, also known as the Chang’An Chain.
Since President Xi Jinping endorsed blockchain in 2019, China has been working diligently to enhance industrial applications for the technology, while drawing a line between it and digital assets. In 2021, the Chinese State Council included blockchain in its five-year plan as one of seven critical areas for the nation’s digital economic development.
It is an interesting backdrop given trading cryptocurrencies is strictly banned in China, while non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are permitted as digital collectibles, provided they are only bought with yuan and not resold for profit.
One country, two systems
In contrast, Hong Kong has been adopting a different approach to Web3 development. Under the “one country, two systems” arrangement, Hong Kong is positioning itself as a virtual asset hub, with regulations classifying crypto as a new asset class. It has dedicated HK$50 million (US$6.4 million) to promote Web3 industry growth and established a virtual asset task force led by the city’s finance chief.
Recent developments in Hong Kong, such as a new licensing scheme for crypto exchanges and mainland banks onboarding crypto clients, have fuelled speculation that the city may become a hub for Chinese crypto activity. However, experts caution that Beijing’s official stance on cryptocurrencies remains unchanged.
Zhou Chenggang, CEO and founder of CPIC Investment Management Hong Kong, has urged caution, stating that Hong Kong’s policies do not indicate a shift in mainland regulation.