China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has launched the Trusted Blockchain Open Lab to foster developments in the blockchain space.
The move comes in the wake of the People’s Bank of China’s (PBoC) ban on ICO-based fundraising, and government announcements of an upcoming freeze on the domestic trade of cryptocurrency, which ordered the closure of all cryptocurrency exchanges in the country by October 31.
The lab is operated as part of the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), a research institution within the Ministry. According to the China Economic Review, the CAICT is also building a platform on which blockchain firms and other experts can cooperate in exploring different applications of the technology.
The creation of the lab suggests that the government sees no conflict between the recent crackdown on ICOs and cryptocurrency trading and the exploration of blockchain technology. Sun Guofeng, the Director of the Institute of Finance of the PBoC, explained that the ban, “should not prevent relevant financial technology companies, industry bodies and other technology firms from continuing their research into blockchain technology.” He also said that financial technology firms stand to benefit from exploring a wide range of blockchain applications aside from cryptocurrency, but that the degree of abuse and criminal activity in the field makes enhanced government supervision necessary.
The China Economic Review also quoted a PBoC official as lamenting that “[t]here have been many blockchain conferences where the number of business personnel exceeds technical personnel.” Perhaps this lab will help increase the profile and influence of these technical personnel in the Chinese blockchain space.