The Chinese government has created a blockchain working group of government and blockchain industries to fast-forward the development and adoption of blockchain technology and prepare for the upcoming Global Blockchain Summit in Shanghai this September.
The three-way strategic alliance among the Chinese government, ChinaLedger and the Shenzhen Consortium forms an unprecedented organized force, mandated to grow China’s blockchain industry and propel it forward on a global level. Wanxiang Blockchain Labs, Ant Financial, Webank, Universal Holdings, Ping An Insurance and Micro Focus Bank are among the companies involved.
In an official press release, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology Software Services Division Director Xie Shaofeng speaks for the government, saying that the world is in a new “technological revolution” and blockchain technology and “its application has universal significance in promoting economic and social development.” He calls on all players in government and industry to “pool the wisdom of collaborative innovation.”
The working group will identify significant trends both in China and abroad, decide which key technologies and applications should be developed, identify cyber-security concerns and look at possible government regulations and standard-setting for the blockchain industry.
In an effort to organize research on the “developing trend of blockchain technology and its application,” the Department of Information and Software Service, an agency of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, has issued a letter delegating the task to the China Electronics Standardization Institute, an agency of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
Yu Du, the director of Wanxiang Blockchain Labs, a nonprofit research institute, told Bitcoin Magazine:
“The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is the government authority for developing standards and rules of China industry and information fields. Joining it enables enterprises to engage in blockchain standardization in the early days. In particular, Wanxiang Group as the Vice-Director Unit will have an important propelling and coordinating role. And as a conglomerate, it can promote blockchain in financial sectors and non-financial sectors through its experience and advantages in auto parts and whole vehicle.”
At the working group’s inaugural meeting, Ant Financial’s chief architect, Tong Ling, told the group that what’s good for business and the Chinese economy can also serve as a public service and improve China’s standard of living, but there needs to be room for business to innovate without undue restriction.
Universal Holdings Vice Chairman Xiao Feng noted the importance of building on the work already completed by ChinaLedger and called on the working group to ensure all relevant sectors of Chinese society are involved, as well as calling on the international community to participate.
Xie Shaofeng stressed the importance of cloud computing and big data powered by the blockchain, telling the group that new information technology “will bring about revolutionary change” to Chinese society.
A committee of the working group, the White Paper Writing Group, will work under the guidance of relevant government departments, bringing together a wide range of domestic and international “high-end wisdom” to develop a comprehensive plan to develop the blockchain industry.
The working group’s first priority is to prepare a proposed development plan to be presented to delegates from around the world attending the six-day summit in Shanghai from September 19-24, 2016.
The event will build on the first Global Blockchain Summit in October 2015 and is co-hosted by Wanxiang Blockchain Labs and Ethereum’s DevCon, making it “one of the most anticipated industry events to date,” according to the Ethereum Foundation’s Executive Director Ming Chan.
Chan notes that Shanghai is “both a global financial hub and home to many of Asia’s blockchain pioneers, where the blockchain community continues to grow,” making it an ideal location for the event.
A confirmed list of over forty speakers at the conference includes representatives from Microsoft, UBS, Santander and Ernst & Young, as well as blockchain experts from Ethereum, HyperLedger, R3, Ethcore, Circle, ConsenSys, OpenBazaar and Zcash.
China’s Growing Love Affair With the Blockchain
Until recently, the Chinese government had mostly taken a wait-and-see attitude toward blockchain and digital currencies.
Now the People's Bank of China (PBOC) is experimenting with blockchain technology and a possible digital currency of its own. Furthermore, China’s government recently signaled that it is warming up to blockchain and digital technologies with a newly proposed civil law that will recognize people’s legal right to own virtual assets, including digital currencies.
Wanxiang Blockchain Labs was instrumental in the creation of ChinaLedger, an alliance of regional commodity exchanges, equity exchanges and financial asset exchanges with the aim of creating “an open source blockchain protocol that developers can further build upon in the future.”
Among the alliance’s advisors from the blockchain community are Jeff Garzik of Bloq, Vitalik Buterin, co-founder of Ethereum, Tim Swanson from R3 and Anthony Di Iorio, co-founder of Ethereum and CEO of Decentral.
Jessie Willms is a planet earth based former government and political researcher and communications officer helping to document the FinTech revolution and its impact on traditional institutions and governments. You can follow Jessie on Twitter at @WILLMS_.