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People's Bank Of China, Other Government Bodies To Crack Down On Crypto Trading, Scams




A slew of news on crackdowns related to cryptocurrencies has come out of China in the past several days. These include actions by the People’s Bank of China to further curtail digital asset trading, an alliance between the central bank and other agencies to target fraudulent virtual currency schemes, and an announcement from the Shenzhen stock exchange stating that companies speculating on blockchain technology will face repercussions.

The Chinese government has appeared wary of cryptocurrencies over the last year, and in recent days, the Chinese cryptosphere may have become even more restricted.

According to a report by Reuters based on a document which the news agency reviewed, People's Bank of China (PBoC) Vice Governor Pan Gongsheng has said that Chinese authorities should ban the trade of cryptocurrencies on centralized exchanges and prevent individuals and businesses from providing services related to digital asset trading. These include market-making activities and settlement services for exchanges, such as virtual currency wallets. 

The memorandum, which summarized the proceedings of a recent meeting between policymakers, reportedly relates that Pan instructed authorities to block websites, including foreign ones, that provide access to cryptocurrency exchanges. Additionally, he said, they should prevent Chinese citizens at home from using mobile apps which serve that purpose. 

At the same meeting, Pan called for sanctions against entities that offer payment services denominated in cryptocurrencies and for investigations into companies that facilitate capital flight

He also pledged that Chinese authorities would continue to apply pressure to the trade of digital assets, which was significantly ratcheted up last year with bans on token offerings, colloquially known as ICOs, and on cryptocurrency exchanges, which had to either cease or dramatically reconfigure their operations, or move abroad. 

Reuters quotes Pan as having declared that "[the meeting] clearly called for limiting 'innovations' that deviate from the need of the real economy and escape regulation," and that, "Pseudo-financial innovations that have no relationship with the real economy should not be supported."

Furthermore, he said that authorities should work to eventually eliminate cryptocurrency mining in China by instrumentalizing regulations related to electricity prices, land use, taxation, and environmental stewardship toward that end. Last week, miners reportedly received a notice that they would be steered toward an "orderly exit" from the practice. 

Around the same time, reports emerged that CCTV 2, a Chinese state-run television channel, aired a story describing a newly formed alliance between the PBoC and four other governmental departments to cooperate in cracking down on cybercrime, ostensibly including fraudulent digital assets and cryptocurrency firms. 

The agencies are the Ministry of Public Safety (MPS), which is the country's national police force; the Supreme People's Court; the Supreme People's Procuratorate; and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Of the partnership, MPS Vice President Shi Jun said that the departments would embark on a special campaign to combat a range of fraudulent online activities, language which sparked rumors that the MPS might arrest some prominent figures in order to make examples of them.

In December 2017, it was reported that Chinese police had cracked down on over 100 altcoins.  

Finally, on January 16, the Shenzhen stock exchange announced that it would punish companies for speculating on blockchain technology and misleading investors, according to Reuters

The exchange reportedly disclosed that it has already implemented supervisory measures against 17 companies, including temporarily suspending the trade of some of those companies' shares in order to give the body sufficient time to review the causes behind dramatic changes in their stock prices. 

Adam Reese

Adam Reese is a Los Angeles-based writer interested in technology, domestic and international politics, social issues, infrastructure and the arts. Adam holds value in Ether, Bitcoin, and Monero.

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