The Great Firewall Rises Again: China Shuts Down Crypto Access

February 8, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

China has been a major issue of contention in the cryptocurrency market of late, but now, it’s gone from “mild antagonist” to “full-blown nemesis.” The Chinese government has set up new rules calling on its vaunted “Great Firewall” online censorship mechanisms to not only block every cryptocurrency trading service website, but also anything with an initial coin offering (ICO) or even advertising relevant to a cryptocurrency.

This comes on top of previous moves that banned ICO releases in the country, and also shut down a set of domestic exchanges. That left Chinese citizens still able to access exchanges operating in other countries, some as close as Japan.

The reason behind the block is the standard one: China is blocking these operations “to prevent financial risk.” Word from the Financial News, a publication affiliated with the People’s Bank of China, is that the risks are still present, backed up by “…illegal issuance and even fraud and pyramid selling.”

The central bank is also planning to “tighten regulations” on the overall involvement of Chinese citizens in overseas cryptocurrency pursuits, which almost requires the government to restart operations on that front at some point. Why make new regulations for a thing you won’t let anyone access anyway?

The first thought for many following this development is “so what?”. The Chinese already have a long history of using virtual private networks (VPNs) to get around the massive paranoid Chinese firewall anyway. So China issuing the formal ban only means so much when the average Chinese citizen can easily route his or her net traffic through, say, Australia, who isn’t currently in the grips of some Orwellian fever dream that they can edit a massive worldwide information network for local mores. The second, however, is that a platform that’s this hated by banks and governments is on a certain level attractive; just what is it they’re trying so frantically to keep people out of?

Still, this is one more sock in the teeth for what has become easily the most maligned mobile payments system ever released. If the overall future of cryptocurrency wasn’t already shaky, this would make things even worse.