The World correspondent Frédéric Lemaître explained in his column that Beijing’s introduction of a virtual currency constitutes a reversal of authority caused by the Facebook project
chronic. Mark Zuckerberg dreamed of it, Xi Jinping did it. more or less. China’s central bank is finalizing the launch of its virtual currency. There is no doubt that letting Facebook, which is banned in China, develop an international currency that would violate the sovereignty of nations, including one day, that of Beijing, the Chinese leader explained, at this point in stages with the economy minister. And French Finance, Bruno Le Maire.
Clearly, in the current context of the trade war and tech war, Beijing’s approach is not just anti-Facebook. It is first and foremost anti-American. “All eyes are now on China, which is in an unprecedented competition with the United States for a better future defined by blockchain,” Chinese nationalist daily Global Times recently expressed delight. Ironic history: A decade after Bitcoin was launched by libertarian geeks who wanted to circumvent the control of monetary authorities, the world’s most concentrated country surprised everyone by introducing a national virtual currency.
If China’s central bank has been working on the issue for five years, China’s discourse on the issue has changed recently. So far, China has been paying close attention to blockchain, a technology that securely stores and exchanges information without central control, but is very reserved for its main use: virtual currency. In 2017, China banned virtual currency trading and fundraising. In February 2018, Alibaba, one of China’s technology flagships, made a promise to “never create virtual currency.”
A year and a half later, however, the company is preparing to join UnionPay, Tencent and China’s four major public banks as one of seven channels reserved for the central bank to issue currency. Therefore, the launch of the project is a reversal by the Chinese authorities, caused by the Facebook project. Until recent weeks, it was uncertain whether the currency would be based on blockchain. According to some experts, this ultra-secure technology is not efficient enough to achieve 300,000 transactions per second — the goal of the Bank of China.
Blockchain, “Basic Technology”
But Beijing can also leapfrog its rivals and fix the problem. On Thursday, October 24, President Xi Jinping personally elevated the blockchain to the level of “basic technology,” securing priority funding for it. Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that Chinese research will improve the technological capabilities of blockchain in the near future.