China crackdowns on cryptocurrency again by removing content from WeChat

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WeChat, the giant social networking app that also serves as a hub for producing original content, has permanently shut down a dozen of widely followed blockchain-related official accounts after demands from internet regulators, local media is reporting.

Tencent, the operator of WeChat, was asked to seal the accounts on suspicion of publishing and spreading news and rumors about ICOs and cryptocurrency trading violating the “Interim Provisions on the Development of Public Information Services for Instant Messaging Tools”.

Among the closed accounts are Golden Finance (金色财经), Huobi News (火币资讯), Coin World (币世界), DeepChain Finance (深链财经). The first three accounts are related to Huobi, the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume.

China has adopted a strict stance towards cryptocurrencies since September 2017, when the country’s central bank banned all ICOs. Under the regulation, several of the country’s top cryptocurrency trading platforms moved their operations abroad. Huobi moved its headquarters from Beijing to Singapore last October. OKEx, the world second largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume, plans to move its headquarters from Hong Kong to Europe.

While Beijing stands firm in its regulation on cryptocurrencies, it is trying to embrace blockchain, the technology that’s fundamental to virtual currencies. The initiative has been pushed on various levels across the country. In 2017 alone, China applied for 225 blockchain patents, almost two and a half times more than the US which applied for 91. At the same time, the central government began establishing national standards for blockchain technology with numerous local governments following the lead either by establishing their blockchain venture funds or setting up blockchain industrial parks.

The different government attitude divides the legality of the two closely related sectors and also the practitioners in the two fields. Those in the blockchain community, or “lianquan” (链圈) as dubbed by insiders, enjoy government provincial policies and investments, and those in cryptocurrency community or “biquan” (币圈) are operating in a grey market.