China’s first blockchain pilot zone officially opened in Haikou, Hainan on Monday, Xinhua reports.
Its site is the Hainan Resort Software Community, which has launched a blockchain research institute in cooperation with Oxford University’s blockchain research center. The software community is also setting up an innovation center in partnership with China’s Renmin University.
The zone’s scope will cover more than research, however. According to the head of Hainan Province’s department of industry and internet technology, Wang Jing, “[the] pilot zone will commit 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.”
Some of China’s tech players have already moved to Hainan and set up blockchain-related divisions. AI and search engine giant Baidu registered subsidiary Dulian Internet Technology in the island province back in August. Although Baidu hasn’t specified whether it will belong to the blockchain pilot zone, Dulian will specialize in blockchain tech development as well as online games.
Global crypto exchange company Huobi—which recently completed a backdoor listing in Hong Kong—is also planning to set up a blockchain research lab in Hainan, according to an April 30 press release. The lab initiated with Tianya Community is scheduled to be completed before the end of this year. According to the release, Huobi’s plan is to move its domestic headquarters to the Haikou pilot zone, set up a blockchain incubator, and create “a billion-dollar global blockchain industry fund.” Huobi is currently operating only in a consulting and research capacity in China due to China’s infamous crypto crackdown.
Aside from Baidu and Huobi, NASDAQ-listed Xunlei—which launched its ThunderChain this past April—and 360 Blockchain Security which falls under China’s top cybersecurity company Qihoo’s 360 will also set up office in the new zone, local media reported.
Hainan is not the only area in China included in the country’s national plan to make rapid advancement in the field of blockchain. Shenzhen launched its first venture capital fund of RMB 500 million on April 24 to focus on blockchain firms, about 2 weeks after the Hangzhou government invested in a $1.6 billion blockchain fund. China’s southeastern coastal province Fujian also announced a regional policy encouraging companies to adopt blockchain technology during the same month.
At the Trusted Blockchain Summit 2018 held in Beijing earlier this month, emphasis on blockchain as was reaffirmed by the Ministry of Industry and Internet Technology’s chief economist, Wang Xinzhe. According to Wang, blockchain technology is important for the country as a whole, and the ministry will seek to support innovation and improve policies, among other things, in order to speed domestic growth.