7 ways China is quietly embracing blockchain

China in Blockchain: a rash of new blockchain-related enterprise.

China’s recent blockchain development bonanza shows no sign of abatement. Business leaders and investors seized on President Xi Jinping’s first-ever endorsement of blockchain as an underpinning technology, and new initiatives sprung up almost overnight. But Chinese firms, investors and universities have been working quietly on blockchain projects since 2014.

From pledging loyalty to the Communist Party and identifying smart city citizens to verifying pigs and tracking liquor shipments, here’s how China’s gone all-in on blockchain.


An identification system for cities

China’s wasting no time with this one. Since Sunday, city authorities across China have been eligible to apply for a city identification code to link them into a blockchain network developed by three institutes in Shijiazhuang city.

The network aims to enable data sharing and interconnectivity between provinces.

But Chinese smart city goals don’t end there. China’s aim is to have 100 operational smart cities by 2020, including its future capital Xiongan, and blockchain will feature prominently.


An authentication method for everything from liquor to pig meat

Prized by international dignitaries (one bottle is a staggering $450,) Moutai liquor is blended from up to 200 spirits and is manufactured by only one company, Kweichow Moutai Co., a partially state-owned Chinese enterprise. The company has been working with Ant Financial (an affiliate of China’s internet behemoth Alibaba) since March 2018, to develop a blockchain-based anti-counterfeiting system for its premium hooch.

The country that’s famous for its copies of everything from Louis Vuitton bags to WAL-MART (China’s version is WU-MART), has embraced blockchain’s authentication talents like no other. It’s using them for everything from verifying pigs to “information asymmetry” in trade finance.


A national digital currency

Many of China’s applications are a far cry from the vision of the technology’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto. One example is China’s plan for a national digital currency. It won’t be decentralized—one of the main factors ensuring that a blockchain is tamper-proof. That’s why some are calling the technology’s renaissance in China, “blockchain with Chinese characteristics.”

Decentralized or not, China’s national digital currency is still likely to get off the starting blocks before Facebook’s Libra—the project that’s rumored to have precipitated its speedy rollout.