21 Oct 2021 · 3 min read

Chinese Media’s Silence Is Deafening as Bitcoin Soars Toward USD 70,000

Source: Adobe/romsvetnik

As bitcoin (BTC) continues its meteoric price rise, dragging the rest of the market with it, the news has been making front pages the world over. Everywhere, that is, except China, where the price leap has been met with a wall of stony silence.

A search for “cryptocurrency” on Baidu, the Middle Kingdom’s biggest search engine, returns precious little in the way of BTC price news from any of the nation’s major media outlets. A similar search on Chinese Google produces similar results.

What such searches do produce, however, is a glut of news reports about crypto scams, token-hungry dating app-based catfishing schemes, police crackdowns, and efforts to fight the “polluting effects” of crypto mining.

The state-run China Economic Daily, the nation’s biggest financial newspaper, made no mention of bitcoin or crypto on its exhaustive homepage, while there was also not a peep from the country’s biggest newspaper, the People’s Daily (also state-run).

The latter did report on yet another setback for Chinese miners, however: The National Development and Reform Commission (formerly the State Planning Commission) has announced that it is set to place crypto mining on its list of banned industries. While this may sound like a cosmetic change to some observers considering the recent crackdown, it will likely mean more serious enforcement measures are on their way for those miners who have decided to stay in Mainland China.

The list has not been updated since 2019, and the move would also prevent companies and individuals from making “investments” in the crypto mining industry.

A more serious media blackout could also be coming. As previously reported, Beijing has moved to block mainland internet access to not only crypto-related media outlets, but also sites run by price-tracking data providers like CoinGecko and CoinMarketCap. And per Reuters, the latest Cyberspace Administration of China whitelist of media outlets has shrunk in size to just 1,358. Most worrying, perhaps, is the omission of Caixin, one of the country’s largest and most well-read financial news outlets.

The regulator also warned that internet-based news services that repost news “must follow the latest version of the list,” and that “outlets that do not abide by the rules will face punishment.”

This latter development could further restrict Chinese web users’ access to crypto-related information: Many Chinese bitcoin and crypto news stories from smaller outlets are currently reprinted on major news sites, but closer regulation could limit this inflow of news.

The Financial Times reported that Chinese crypto enthusiasts are looking to the DeFi industry for access solutions after some 30 major crypto firms – including many mining pools and crypto exchanges – deserted the country or closed down their businesses.

The media outlet, citing data from Chainalysis, noted:

“While the latest restrictions are deterring new blood from entering the crypto markets, experts say that some existing cryptocurrency holders are turning to DeFi in order to continue to trade. DeFi protocols do not have the same know your customer obligations as the more tightly regulated conventional exchanges.”

Regardless, BTC trading appears to have taken a massive hit in China, once home to some of the world’s busiest exchanges.

Chainalysis data showed that China’s share of global bitcoin transactions was a huge 15% in November 2019, but dropped to just 5% in June 2021, three months before the latest crackdown.

But there may be an ironic twist in the tale for those searching for access solutions in the Middle Kingdom. Another state-run Chinese newspaper, the China Daily, reported that the nation’s cabinet has signed off on a measure that will let overseas telecommunications operators set up joint venture firms to provide VPN services in Beijing.

Although these VPN services will only be officially available to “foreign companies” and must be at least 50% owned by Chinese firms, the media outlet made note of the “country’s determination and confidence to further open up the telecommunications services sector.”

At 11:09 UTC, BTC traded at USD 65,924 and was up by 3% in a day and 15% in a week.
Learn more: 
- US Becomes Largest Bitcoin Mining Hub After China's Miner Exodus
- China Ready to Get Tough with Crypto Crackdown Enforcement

- Chinese Firms Exiting Mainland as Crypto Crackdown Bites
- Regulator is Like a ‘Bulldozer’ but Crypto is ‘Resistant to State Control’