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国际顶级科技评论期刊《麻省理工科技评论》报道亦来云

《国际顶级科技评论期刊《麻省理工科技评论》报道亦来云》

亦来云

区块链驱动的智能万维网

《国际顶级科技评论期刊《麻省理工科技评论》报道亦来云》

MIT Technology Review为全球知名国际评论期刊。《麻省理工科技评论》源自麻省理工学院,是拥有118年历史的全球著名技术商业类期刊。作为全球最为著名的技术榜单之一,《麻省理工科技评论》每年进行评选的全球十大突破性技术具备极大的全球影响力和权威性。

MIT科技评论期刊在”Can China Contain Bitcoin?”一文中报道亦来云、及亦来云联合创始人韩锋在清华大学教授区块链课程等内容。

《国际顶级科技评论期刊《麻省理工科技评论》报道亦来云》

附《麻省理工科技评论》报道全文。

小编贴心的先放中文翻译英文原版可以下翻查看:

中国能否容纳比特币?

(本篇是全球著名科技媒体MIT TECH REVIEW对韩锋等中国区块链社区代表人物所做专访)

比特币是能够在全球通行的分散式数字货币,它的普及速度超出了大家的预期。在2016年,全球大部分比特币交易使用的是人民币计价。

2017年9月份,中国全面禁止ICO,这是初创企业流行的使用代币或者数字货币进行募资的一种方式。然后,国内的数字货币交易所必须关闭。

在2008年金融危机爆发之际,由一个神秘的自称为中本聪的人把比特币带向全世界。从那以后,比特币的崛起——特别是在把比特币价格从低于一千美元推到一万美元的一堆投资者之中畅行。他们是否应该接受这种新型的货币?虽然它更容易让人们相对匿名地发送资金——同时是否也是对洗钱者等来说是更具吸引力的一个优势?他们应该全面禁止它吗,寄希望于通过货币政策进行监管?或者他们应该像日本政府那样,通过发行法律承认比特币的法定支付地位来拥抱迎接它?

比特币的交易记录在公开的、不受审查限制的区块链分类账本之中,它由全世界的计算机网络不断地更新。虚拟货币的分散性,使得任何一个人都无法把它关闭掉。在中国区块链社区与我对话的人员都表现出对于区块链行业的信心和支持,他们对比特币以及其他数字货币的未来都表示乐观。

限速


中国的数字货币世界就像东方的硅谷。人们着便装,在券商处工作,并在白板上涂鸦。他们是全球性的,随时飞往纽约或东京寻找商机。区块链投资家高东亮说:”这让我想起1995年的互联网社区,每个人都认识”。高解释说:”就像互联网早期的拥泵,中国区块链社区的成员对改变世界的技术信念笃定”。

其中一个社区成员是鲁斌,上海区块链初创公司Andui的首席执行官。从路易斯安那州立大学获得博士学位精力充沛的鲁斌说他设想出以太坊的中文称呼——yitaifang,这个为更复杂的金融交易创设的起念于比特币的虚拟货币网络世界。

在8月底,鲁斌为Bihu.com发起ICO,这是基于区块链技术的交流平台。在ICO中,初创公司向公众发布新的虚拟代币,有时候对于初创产品的使用来说,发行代币是必要的。理论上,对产品的高需求引发了代币的增值。用户除了能够使用平台自己发行的代币获得好的内容,bihu.com还致力于打造像推特或者reddit这样的产品。

鲁斌为bihu.com的ICO成功而感到高兴。他说他在几小时内募资了超过两千万美元的款项。他相信如果通过风投不可能有这个结果。接下来的一个月,中国的政策施行,鲁斌必须把所有的钱归还给投资者。

鲁斌处之泰然。鲁斌承认有一种”团队挫败感”和一般的”能源耗费感”。尽管如此,他认为政策保护大部分的投资者免受欺诈。你在平台上购买的代币,用于还没成型的整个模型的开发,或许永远不会存在,或许整个失败,或许只是骗子的幌子。

当然,圈钱性质的ICO并不仅仅在中国存在。2017年,美国证券交易委员会起诉了两个以钻石和房地产投资作为后盾的ICO项目,政府声称并没有实际的运转。在中国,这个问题因新手以及缺乏经验的投资者的进入而更加严重。

NEO的创始人达鸿飞说,政策对中国来说是必要的。2014年,NEO发起了ICO,从那以后成为市值靠前的世界顶级加密货币之一,在12月份的时候已经超过25亿美元。这家公司表示,政策执行之后将愿意退资给投资者,但他们更愿意继续持有NEO代币。

为了说明为什么他支持政策,达鸿飞举了最近去德国旅行的例子。他震惊于那儿不限速高速驾驶的经历。他说:”德国人能够做到这一点,是因为他们有高质量的公路,他们对驾照严格把控……每个人都遵守交通规则,他们有高质量的汽车”,他补充说:”如果我们中国甚至美国不限速,将会是一场灾难”。

相关故事


比特币是什么?为什么它重要?一个蓬勃发展的数字货币真的可以和传统货币进行竞争吗?然而,中国不仅仅是对虚拟数字货币进行限速这么简单。

他关了数据货币整条高速通道。鲁斌,这个不得不归还投资者2000万美金的企业家希望情况如此。他说ICO提出了一种新的商业模式,用户是公司中的利益相关者,这让他们更有意愿去推广平台。鲁斌认为虚拟货币交易会重启,但是是由政府管理。他说中国会从外界,特别是美国获得监管线索。美国证券交易委员会最近提示将会对ICO采取更为严格的立场,可能要求投资企业向委员会登记,并向投资者披露大量信息。

现在,鲁斌继续在上海从事bihu网的工作,用私人投资募集资金。他说:”我们是信徒,我们相信中国市场最终会开放”。如果加密货币成为现实,他说:”中国不想错过这趟火车”。

矿工威胁


比特币在国内大热之前,中国当即谨慎地接受了这项技术。在2013年5月,中央电视台播出了一个关于比特币的短片。在同一个月,在他2014年的一本书”咀嚼比特币”中提到:中国比特币的过去现在以及未来,比特币钱包——持有和管理人们私人密钥的软件,在中国的下载量比世界其它地区的下载量总和还要多。

很容易理解为什么很多中国人会被比特币吸引。在中国的金融管理环境中,卡普隆认为,对货币投资是散户进行投资的少数可选项目之一。在2013年,上交所一直表现不佳。对于普通大众来说,房地产太贵,但是只要一美元就可以购买一小部分比特币。在2013年中期,中国交易所每天都在交易超过3500万美元的比特币。

投资热度越来越高,中国的人民币转出限额是每人每年5万美元。虽然还没有证据表明大量的人使用比特币来规避中国的限额问题,但存在可能性。中国人可以使用人民币买比特币,在美国交易所出售,然后提取等量的美元。在2013年底,中国出台政策,禁止金融服务机构处理比特币交易。中国人不再能直接从中国交易所进行比特币交易。

数字货币专家James Gong说:”不懂区块链或数字货币的人不应该参与进这个市场,风险太大”。毕竟,中国并没有禁止比特币本身,也没有明确禁止点对点交易,中国也还没有禁止比特币挖矿,人们通过电脑比赛来解决数学难题以换取代币奖励。截至9月份,中国生产了2/3的比特币。大部分用于挖矿的计算机产自中国。矿工使用大量的算力,一些用于这个过程的中国计算机集群享受相对便宜的电力。中国矿业的成长和主导地位引发了一些人担心中国对未来区块链技术发展影响太大。

一位名叫Discus Fish的矿池创始人说,中国的地方政府曾经鼓励采矿,特别是在生产水力发电的山区。矿工正在尽可能地使用能源,否则将造成浪费。然后在9月份,政治环境发生了变化,他担心一些地方政府将不再欢迎采矿。但是矿业界的其他人则对此漠不关心。 BTCC副总裁赵千捷指出,该公司的矿池不受所在交易所关闭的影响。

很显然,中国让新手更难以进入比特币市场。但这也许不是一件坏事。至少来自上海的加密货币专家James Gong这样认为,他平台上的企业大部分都不是中国人的,海外项目质量普遍高于中国企业。 他说:”不了解区块链或数字货币的人不应该参与这个市场”。”风险太大了。提高普通老百姓交易电子货币的门槛,对整个行业来说都是好事。一些中国人盲目投资,他们投资任何项目”。

相关故事


为什么人们会信仰于比特币?加密货币的价格飞涨,但不仅仅是趋于投资机遇这么简单。全球比特币交易所OKCoin的前副总裁,现任杭州区块链创业公司8btc执行总裁的段新星解释说:”互联网是一个信息网络,比特币是一个金钱网络,它具有真正的价值。”

在中国,比特币是个越来越被经常讨论的词,区块链也是。韩锋老师是亦来云基金会的联合创始人,该基金会致力于创建一个以区块链技术为核心的新型互联网操作系统。

今年秋天,韩锋老师计划举行一个全球网播的清华区块链课堂。他为这个课堂花费了数月的时间。录像设备已经完全准备好。大学在微信上推出了这门课,并称”这是清华大学第一门比特币课程。”

和当初互联网给中国带来的挑战一样,比特币也给中国带来了这样的挑战。

韩锋老师对清华mooc组织者缺乏意识有点失落。在这个时期,为何用比特币这个字眼。值得庆幸的是,虽然网络课程被取消了,但韩锋老师没有止步。他继续在清华大学的校堂里讲授这门课:”赛博智能经济和区块链”。

比特币和互联网那样给中国带来了差不多的挑战。中国将区块链视为一项未来的技术。区块链发展甚至是中共十三五规划的一部分。该项技术为支付和各种交易提供了防篡改的、免中介的账本。麻省理工学院媒体实验室数字货币计划中心的Michael Casey认为中国把区块链视为促进区域利益的有效工具,特别是在贸易领域。清华大学工程教授Ben Koo说:”中国更愿意接受一个没有比特币的区块链。中国想要用区块链去确保公共和行政数据的可信度”。

中国也希望用自己的数字货币取代比特币,但像Bobby Lee这样的比特币爱好者说,中国的版本将是一个”完全不同的产物”。他解释说:”这将是一个货币正好是数字化的,它正好有一些加密技术。”如果新货币受到与传统货币有相同的货币政策、利率、限制、规定的约束,那么它就和比特币不能比,这是真正的免费。

寒冬已经过去


没有任何一个人能阻止比特币的通行。这就是分散式网络的奇妙之处:中国政策执行之后,大部分的比特币交易移到日本和韩国。亦来云的联合创始人韩锋老师说:”区块链是一个全球性的技术。””不同的功能运转在不同的国家,如果你想去交易,可以去日本这样对比特币表示友好的国家。如果你想要客户,来中国。如果你想要一个技术性社区,去美国较好”。

比特币的价格不断创出新的纪录。NBL的首席执行官陈燕说:”当中国开始监管比特币,这给我们一个重要的信息,就是中国开始严肃地对待这种数字货币。”

NBL是一家存储加密货币钱包的服务公司。

NEO达鸿飞认为,中国的数字货币社区在萎靡,有时候”冬天”会来临。但他认为整个前景是非常明朗的,监管将不会永远存在,监管的去除会让中国减少对比特币的警惕。区块链,加密货币,以及它们为什么重要?比特币给中国带来了和互联网曾经一样的挑战。中国最初对网络持怀疑态度,因为放弃网络意味着放弃某种程度的控制。最终又觉得切断网络会更糟,因为这会使中国经济脱轨。比特币的尴尬处境与当初互联网的处境有个关键点不同:要把中国跟世界其他部分隔离开来未免太迟了。

BTCC的赵总说:只要中国有一条电缆与世界接轨,比特币就会在中国生根。

这意味着现在,比特币已经通过了这项测试。比特币在中国政策之后没有消失。虚拟货币已经表明它不会被任何人击溃。正如Lee所说:”每次你试图击败比特币,它不但不灭,反而更强大。”

本文记者艾米莉·帕克(Emily Parker)曾为”华尔街日报”(Wall Street Journal)报道过中国情况,并在美国国务院担任顾问。她是《现在我知道谁是我的同志:地下网络的声音》的作者。

英文原版:

Can China Contain Bitcoin?

It is trying. But the cryptocurrency is bigger than any country, even the one where it has been most popular.

by Emily Parker December 11, 2017

It was only a matter of time before Bobby Lee, CEO of China’s longest-running Bitcoin exchange, found himself in the crosshairs of Chinese regulators. His exchange, BTCC, had occupied a gray area of Chinese law, neither licensed nor explicitly illegal. Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that can be sent electronically around the world, and its growing popularity made Chinese authorities nervous. In 2016, most Bitcoin trades worldwide were in Chinese yuan.

In January 2017, BTCC was investigated by China’s Central Bank. In September, China announced that it was banning initial coin offerings (ICOs), a popular fund-raising method for startups that use digital coins or tokens. Even then, Lee thought exchanges like his were safe. Later that month, Chinese regulators made it clear that BTCC and other domestic virtual-currency exchanges had to close, an attempt to make it harder for the general public to enter the market and buy bitcoins.

Lee says that he was neither shocked nor panicked, just dismayed. “Ah, finally, the party’s over,” he thought. “The party has to end sometime.”

This story is part of our January/February 2018 Issue

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Bitcoin, introduced by a mysterious and since vanished character named Satoshi Nakamoto, came into the world around the time of the 2008 financial crisis. The fact that it was not backed by any central authority appealed to those who distrusted governments and big banks. Since then, the currency’s rise—especially its popularity among speculators, who helped push the value of one bitcoin from under $1,000 to more than $10,000 during 2017—has presented governments with a challenge. Should they allow this new kind of money, even though it makes it easy for people to send funds relatively anonymously—a feature that is attractive to money launderers and other criminals? Should they try to suppress it, in hopes of maintaining full control over monetary policy? Or should they embrace it, as the Japanese government has done, even passing a law to recognize Bitcoin as a legal payment method?

Bitcoin transactions are recorded on a blockchain, which is a public, censor-proof ledger that is continually being updated by a network of computers throughout the world. The decentralized nature of virtual money should make it impossible for any one country to shut it down. China’s crackdown put that foundational belief to the test. The news of BTCC’s shutdown briefly caused the price of a bitcoin to plunge. China, after all, is known for trying to control seemingly uncontrollable things. Beijing has been surprisingly effective at fencing off the Internet with an army of censors and a Great Firewall that blocks sites like Facebook and Twitter, and yet its online communities and commerce flourish. China is now developing its own digital fiat currency, an apparent attempt to make financial transactions cheaper and more traceable, as well as to combat counterfeiting.

None of this would seem to bode well for Bitcoin. Yet weeks after the crackdown, nearly everyone I spoke to in China’s cryptocurrency community was in strikingly good spirits. They were optimistic about the future of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies in China, whose crackdown wasn’t as all-encompassing as it might have seemed.

Speed limits

China’s cryptocurrency world resembles a Silicon Valley of the East. People dress casually, work in shared maker spaces, and scribble on whiteboards. They are global, ready to jump on a flight to New York or Tokyo to seek out a business opportunity. “It reminds me of the Internet community in 1995. Everyone knows each other,” says Gao Dongliang, a blockchain investor. Similar to early devotees of the Internet, Gao explains, people in China’s blockchain community share a belief in a world-changing technology.

One member of this community is Lu Bin, the CEO of a Shanghai-based blockchain startup called Andui. The energetic Lu, who got a PhD from Louisiana State University, says he helped come up with the term yitaifang, the Chinese name for Ethereum, a Bitcoin-inspired virtual-currency network built for more complicated financial transactions.

In late August Lu did an ICO to raise money for Bihu.com, a communications platform that uses blockchain technology. In ICOs, startups issue a new virtual token to the public, sometimes on the premise that the token will be necessary for use of the startup’s product. High demand for that product should, in theory, make these virtual tokens gain value. Bihu.com aimed to be like Twitter or Reddit, except that users could reward good content with “keys,” the platform’s own token.

Lu was thrilled by Bihu’s ICO. He says he raised over $20 million in a matter of hours. He believed there was no way that venture capital would deliver that kind of result. Then the following month China’s ICO ban came down, and Lu had to give all the money back.

He took it in stride. Lu acknowledged there was “frustration within the team” and a general “waste of energy.” But nonetheless, he felt that the ICO ban protected average investors against fraud.

In China, if something is not explicitly verboten, then it’s full speed ahead.

In fact, everyone I spoke to in China’s cryptocurrency community supported, or was at least sympathetic to, the ICO ban. I repeatedly heard that 90 percent of Chinese ICOs were scams. The whole model, in which you buy tokens to use on a platform that does not yet exist, might never exist, or could be a total flop, can be a magnet for fraudsters.

Fraudulent ICOs are not limited to China, of course. In 2017 the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission charged two ICOs that were supposedly backed by investments in diamonds and real estate. Neither had “any real operations,” the government alleged. In China, the fraud problem appears to have been exacerbated by the participation of relatively new and inexperienced investors.

Da Hongfei, founder of an alternative cryptocurrency called NEO, says the ICO crackdown was necessary for China. NEO had its first ICO in 2014 and has since risen to become one of the top cryptocurrencies in the world by market value, at over $2.5 billion in December. The company says it offered to refund investors after the ICO ban, but they preferred to keep their NEO tokens.

To illustrate why he supports the ban, Da describes a recent trip he took to Germany. He was struck by the experience of driving on the autobahn, which has no speed limit. Germany is able to do this, he says, because “they have good-quality roads, they have a very strict test for a driver’s license … Everybody is obeying the traffic rules, and they have very good-quality cars.” He adds, “If we don’t do a speed limit in China, or even maybe the United States, that would be a disaster.”

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China didn’t just impose a speed limit on virtual currency, however. It shut down the entire highway. Perhaps Chinese officials banned ICOs until they figure out how to regulate them. Lu, the entrepreneur who had to return $20 million to investors, hopes that this is the case. He says ICOs present a new business model in which users are stakeholders in the company, which gives them an incentive to invite their friends to join the platform. Lu believes that the virtual-currency exchanges will reopen but be run by the government. He says China will take regulation cues from the outside world, particularly the United States. The SEC recently signaled that it would take a more aggressive stance toward ICOs, perhaps by requiring ventures to register with the commission and disclose extensive information to investors.

For now, Lu will continue to work on Bihu.com from Shanghai, raising capital with private investment. “We are believers,” he says. “We believe the Chinese market is eventually going to open.” If cryptocurrency is going to be a real thing, he says, “China does not want to miss the train.”

Miner threat

Before Bitcoin got too hot in the country, Chinese authorities were cautiously accepting of the technology. In May 2013, state-run CCTV even aired a short documentary about it. That same month, Zennon Kapron notes in his 2014 book, Chomping at the Bitcoin: The Past, Present and Future of Bitcoin in China, more Bitcoin wallets—the software that holds and manages people’s private cryptographic keys—were downloaded by computers in China than in the rest of the world put together.

It’s easy to understand why many Chinese people would be attracted to Bitcoin. In China’s heavily regulated financial environment, speculating on the currency represented one of the few investment options for the retail investor, Kapron observes. In 2013, the Shanghai stock exchange had been underperforming for years. Real estate prices were too high for many ordinary people, but you could buy a fraction of a bitcoin for as little as one dollar. By mid-2013, Chinese exchanges were moving more than $35 million in bitcoins each day.

PABLO DELCAN

The speculative fervor threatened to get out of hand. Beijing was also worried about yuan leaving the country. China caps yuan outflow at $50,000 per person per year. While it’s not clear that large numbers of people were using Bitcoin to evade Chinese capital controls, the potential was there. People in China could buy bitcoins in yuan, sell them on an American exchange, and then withdraw the sum in dollars. In late 2013 Chinese authorities struck back, banning financial services companies from dealing with Bitcoin exchanges. People could no longer withdraw yuan from their bank accounts to directly buy bitcoins on Chinese exchanges.

It wasn’t long before Chinese people figured out how to get around this obstacle. Instead of paying exchanges directly from their bank accounts, they used cash to buy vouchers that could then be traded on the exchanges. Alternatively, purchasers could send money to the personal bank account of someone who worked at an exchange.

The latest restrictions are more draconian, with cryptocurrency exchanges now shut down. But once again, workarounds have emerged. Some people have turned to online and offline peer-to-peer trading. People can also buy and sell digital currencies on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, which is blocked in China but can be accessed by virtual private networks (VPNs) that get around the Great Firewall. People who already own coins can just go online and trade them on an exchange that is based overseas. There was even some trading on WeChat, China’s massively popular but heavily monitored messaging app.

“People who don’t know blockchain or digital currency shouldn’t be participating in this market. The risks are too great.”

James Gong, cryptocurrency expert

After all, China did not ban Bitcoin itself, nor did it explicitly prohibit peer-to-peer trading. And importantly, China hasn’t banned the mining of bitcoins, in which people have their computers race to solve difficult mathematical problems in exchange for coin rewards. As of September, more than two-thirds of bitcoins were made in China. Much of the computer hardware used for mining is manufactured there. Miners use a great deal of computing power, and some Chinese computer clusters used for the process enjoy access to relatively cheap electricity. The growth and dominance of Chinese mining has led to fears among some that the country has too much influence over the future development of blockchain technology.

A founder of a pool of miners, a person who goes by the name of Discus Fish, says that China’s local governments once encouraged mining, particularly in mountainous areas that produce hydroelectric power. The mines were using energy that would otherwise have gone to waste. Then in September the political environment changed, and he feared some local governments would no longer welcome mining. But others in the mining community were unconcerned. Zhao Qianjie, a vice president of BTCC, notes that the company’s mining pool was not influenced by the crackdown on its Bitcoin exchange. And in China, if something is not explicitly verboten, then it’s full speed ahead.

Getting around control

What is clear is that China has made it more inconvenient for newcomers to enter the Bitcoin market. But maybe this isn’t such a bad thing. At least so would argue James Gong, a Shanghai-based cryptocurrency expert who founded ICOage, an online platform through which ventures could promote and raise money for their ICOs. Launched last January, ICOage closed down in September. He says that most of the ventures on his platform were not Chinese, and that the overseas projects were generally higher in quality than the Chinese ones. “People who don’t understand blockchain or digital currency shouldn’t be participating in this market,” Gong says. “The risks are too great. Raising the threshold for ordinary people to trade digital currency is good for the industry as a whole. Some Chinese people were blindly investing. They would buy anything.”

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Even now, Chinese people who want to trade cryptocurrency are likely to find a way. China is making trading difficult but not impossible. Beijing employs a similar strategy for censoring the Internet. It’s possible to use a VPN to jump over the firewall, but for many people it’s too much mafan, or trouble. Besides, they are happy with domestic platforms like WeChat. Yet even if China introduced its own digital currency, people might be willing to go the extra length to use Bitcoin.

“With Bitcoin, people will be more motivated to get around control,” explains Duan Xin-Xing, former vice president of the global Bitcoin exchange OKCoin and now executive president of the Hangzhou-based blockchain startup 8btc. “The Internet is a network of information; Bitcoin is a network of money. It has real value.”

The word “Bitcoin” may have become more nearly taboo in China, but “blockchain” has not. Han Feng is the Beijing-based cofounder of the Elastos Foundation, which ambitiously plans to build a whole new Internet powered by blockchain technology. This fall, Han planned to teach a Tsinghua University course that would be webcast all over the world. He prepared for months. The camera stands were already arranged. Then the university promoted the course on WeChat and called it “the first course on Bitcoin at Tsinghua University.”

Bitcoin presents China with the same challenge that the Internet once did.

Han was upset by Tsinghua’s lack of political instincts. Why would you use the word “Bitcoin” at such a sensitive time? Sure enough, the online course was canceled, but Han wasn’t deterred. He proceeded to teach the class on Tsinghua’s campus in Beijing under a more politically correct title, “The Smart Economy and Blockchain.”

Chinese authorities clearly see blockchain as a technology of the future. Blockchain development is even part of the Communist Party’s 13th five-year plan. The technology provides a tamper-proof, intermediary-free ledger for payments and various other kinds of transactions. Michael Casey of the MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative has argued that China sees blockchain as a useful tool for advancing its regional interests, especially in trade.

China would prefer to take blockchain without Bitcoin. “The central government wants to use blockchain to ensure the trustworthiness of public and administrative data, but they don’t want people to print their own money,” says Ben Koo, an engineering professor at Tsinghua University.

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China may also hope to replace Bitcoin with its own digital currency, but Bitcoin enthusiasts in the country, like Bobby Lee, say that China’s version would be a “completely different animal.” He explains, “It’s going to be a controlled, centralized currency that happens to be digital; it happens to have some encryption technologies in it.” If the new currency is subject to the same monetary policies, interest rates, restrictions, limits, and regulations as traditional currency, Lee says, “then it’s going to not compare to something, like Bitcoin, that’s truly free.”

When winter ends

China’s crackdown has demonstrated that no one country can stop Bitcoin. That’s the beauty of the decentralized network: if one nation bows out, others pick up the slack. After China clamped down, much of Bitcoin trading moved to Japan and South Korea. “Blockchain is a global technology,” says Han, cofounder of Elastos. “Different functions work in different countries. If you want to exchange, you go to countries with friendly laws, like Japan. If you want customers, you go to China. If you need a technology community, you go to the U.S.”

Not only has the Chinese ban failed to stop Bitcoin, but the price of a bitcoin rebounded and continued to hit record highs. Chinese regulations may even have contributed to the surging price. “When China started regulating Bitcoin, it sent a message that China takes this currency very seriously,” says Yan Chen, CEO of NBL, a service for storing cryptocurrency wallets. “The market sees that Bitcoin is something that governments are afraid of, so it must be really powerful.”

NEO’s Da thinks that China’s crypto community will shrink over the short term, and that there will be a “winter” for some time. But he sees the overall outlook as bright. He believes that Chinese capital controls will not be around forever, and their removal will give the Chinese government one less reason to be wary of Bitcoin.

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Bitcoin presents China with the same challenge that the Internet once did. The Chinese government was initially suspicious of the Web, because letting it in would mean relinquishing some degree of control. But Beijing ultimately decided that keeping the Internet out would be worse, since that would cut China off from the global economy. The dilemma posed by Bitcoin has one key difference: it’s way too late to isolate China from the rest of the world. “Bitcoin cannot be forbidden in China,” says BTCC’s Zhao. “As long as there is one cable available from China to the outside, then Bitcoin will survive.”

That means for now, Bitcoin has passed the China test. “Bitcoin itself did not break after China banned it,” Lee says. The virtual currency has delivered on its promise that it could not be defeated by any government, even one as powerful as China’s. Or, as Lee puts it, “Every time you try to whack Bitcoin and it doesn’t die, it becomes stronger.”

Emily Parker has covered China for the Wall Street Journal and served as an advisor in the U.S. State Department. She is the author of Now I Know Who My Comrades Are: Voices from the Internet Underground.

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