The Beijing Sci-Tech Report, reportedly China's oldest tech media outlet, has announced it will begin accepting payments in bitcoin for 2019 subscriptions, according to a September 30 article in Chinese news outlet, Guangming.
According to the announcement, the Beijing Sci-Tech Report will be the first news outlet in the country to accept payment in bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency. Considering the rocky relationship China has had with digital currency, this announcement comes as something of a surprise.
In September of last year, the People's Bank of China, along with several other government agencies, announced that initial coin offerings (ICOs) violated Chinese law. Chinese authorities cited concerns over "illegal sale [of] tokens, illegal securities issuance and illegal fund-raising, financial fraud, pyramid schemes and other criminal activities," effectively outlawing the fundraising practice throughout the country.
In August of this year, the China National Internet Financial Risk Rectification Office decided to block internet access to over 124 different crypto-related websites that were accused of "providing information related to ICOs and publishing 'hype' surrounding cryptocurrency trading," which violated Chinese law.
The article states the Beijing Sci-Tech Report made this change in policy not to accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrency, but to "promote blockchain science through practical actions." Perhaps the announcement was worded in such a way to avoid any complications regarding the legality of the change in policy.
So it may seem that allowing people to pay for subscriptions with bitcoin puts the Beijing Sci-Tech Report in violation of Chinese law. Some in the crypto industry took to Twitter to voice these concerns.
In response, China-based crypto news outlet cnLedger reminded the Twittersphere that while ICOs and cryptocurrency exchanges are still illegal, simply owning, investing in, and using cryptocurrency to make purchases is completely legal:
Customers who wish to pay for their subscription in bitcoin will be charged 0.01 bitcoin (approximately 450 yuan). However, if the price of bitcoin increases during the subscription year, the magazine will refund the customer the difference at the end of the year.