China announced on Thursday a series of new blockchain and financial initiatives to strengthen cooperation with countries it has forged relationships with under President Xi Jinping’s landmark Belt and Road development plan.

Why it matters: China has emerged as one of the most prominent players in the global blockchain race in recent years. President Xi’s recent endorsement of blockchain development has spurred government initiatives into action.

  • Blockchain and digital currency development are regarded as key areas for China to strengthen its international technology influence. China sees blockchain opportunities in tapping its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
  • China has been providing technical support to BRI countries, which serve as important nodes in the formation of the “digital silk road.”

Details: Countries including Indonesia, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan along with Chinese digital asset exchange Huobi signed the agreement at the Hainan Free Trade Port International Cooperation Forum on Digital Economy and Blockchain on Thursday morning in Haikou, the capital of southern Hainan province. The initiatives aim to improve cooperation between China and the Belt and Road countries.

  • The newly signed memorandum formalizes cooperation between digital asset exchange Huobi and BRI countries to build the next generation of blockchain-based financial infrastructure.
  • The International Cooperation Forum of Blockchain and Digital Finance Initiative was also announced at the event. BRI countries including Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Bahrain, Singapore, Gibraltar, and Tajikistan along with Chinese companies including Huobi and China Zhongke Technology Investment jointly launched the initiative focusing on building a resource-sharing platform, promoting the blockchain industry’s development, and encourage participation in global blockchain industry cooperation.

Context: The Hainan government released earlier this week a set of measures to speed up blockchain development in multiple areas including housing, healthcare, tourism, and trade with a new fund worth RMB 1 billion ($142 million) set up to finance blockchain companies.

  • Huobi exchange was one of the slew of companies forced out of China in 2017 after the government launched an outright ban on exchange services. Recently, however, it has been actively working with the Chinese government to promote the blockchain industry. The Singapore-based crypto exchange maintains an office in China.
  • The country has been rolling out national-level initiatives and infrastructure to promote the adoption of blockchain technology, including the Blockchain Service Network (BSN) in October. Hainan is a strategic hub for emerging technology and is where China’s first blockchain pilot zone is located.

Nicole Jao is a reporter based in Beijing. She’s passionate about emerging trends, news, and stories of human interest within the world of technology. Connect with her on Twitter or via email: nicole.jao.iting@gmail.com. More by Nicole Jao

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