In an interesting twist, China is now promoting blockchain, albeit from a communist angle, while censoring dissenting views.
China has an interesting history with cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. At one time, most of the Bitcoin trading took place in China, and crypto mining is still heavily associated with the country. The last few years have seen the communist central government work against virtual currencies, such as banning exchanges and putting the squeeze on miners. However, China is now actively promoting blockchain but is doing so while adhering to the party line.
President Xi Jinping of China recently endorsed blockchain technology in a major policy speech. The effect of the speech was to see the stocks of blockchain-associated companies rise dramatically. Such a move seems like a good one, but there is a price to pay.That price is that the innovative technology must bend to the will of the communist government, which can be seen in several forms. The first form is the use of censorship that is being used to help promote blockchain. The central government is now banning articles that say blockchain is a scam, according to popular Twitter user cnLedger. Such a circumstance is a complete 180 from the prevailing attitude of just a year ago. However, blockchain technology is now useful to the country’s regime, so it gets the green (or should that be red, eh, comrade?) light.
Another form of how blockchain and communism are being linked is through an app. The Communist Party of China (CPC) has released an app called Xuexi Qiangguo that was designed by the Alibaba Group. This app teaches a course on Bitcoin and blockchain, but the kicker is that it does so through the political theory espoused by Xi Jinping, who just happens to be the Communist Party General Secretary in addition to being the Chinese president. The reach of the Xuexi Qiangguo app is huge. It is reported that it already has 100 million users. The course on Bitcoin and blockchain, taught by Chen Kang, can also be found on Xuetangx, a MOOC platform with 16 million users that was founded by Tsinghua University, the college that Chen Kang works at.
The Xuexi Qiangguo app is not benign. Researchers from German cybersecurity company Cure53 and the Open Technology Fund, sponsored by the U.S. government, have found some malicious code within the app. The researchers say the code found in the app resembles “a backdoor which is able to run arbitrary commands with superuser privileges.” If run, the app’s code will allow a person to enjoy full system-wide administrative access. This means a bad actor could use the app to modify files, download software, or even install a keylogger. The app also scans other apps and sends the collected info (activity log, user info, etc.) to whoever is behind the malicious code. Cure53 also found that the app gives the Chinese government the ability to know “the location of every citizen at any single point in time.”
Make no mistake. China is deadly serious about being the world leader in regards to blockchain technology. A majority of the world’s blockchain-associated patents have been filed in China, and the central bank is reportedly close to launching its own state-controlled cryptocurrency. Mark Zuckerberg recently warned Congressional members that if the U.S. does not actively support cryptocurrency and blockchain, then it will cede the field to China.
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