Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the most important developments in the industry.

Bitcoin’s glory days on Chinese TikTok

On April 10, Douyin, the Chinese-only version of Tiktok, began publishing price quotes for Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum (ETH), Dogecoin (DOGE), and Ripple (XRP). The move has sparked widespread speculation among Chinese media and users regarding a possible change in the country’s central government’s policy on cryptocurrency regulation.

Unlike its Western counterpart, Douyin’s content is heavily monitored and sometimes censored by Chinese authorities. From September 2022, Douyin is cracking down on content related to cryptocurrencies, NFTs and the Metaverse.

Hence, many individuals were genuinely surprised to see cryptocurrency discoverable on government-run platforms. For about 24-hours, Douyin’s estimated 730 million mainland Chinese users can freely view crypto price quotes on any app. However, dreams of easing the country’s strict crypto laws were soon dashed. On April 11, Bitcoin and cryptocurrency price quotes were removed from Douyin, with a message stating:

“Based on relevant national regulations, unofficial digital currencies do not have the same legal status as fiat currencies. Please invest carefully.”

Starting in 2021, China has banned all types of crypto exchanges, crypto-fiat transactions conducted by financial institutions, and initial coin offerings. That said, the country has stopped short of banning ownership of cryptocurrencies altogether, and the Chinese-controlled territory of Hong Kong has unveiled plans to become a crypto hub.

Bitcoin on Douyin before and after the crackdown.  (GamerSky)
Bitcoin on Douyin before and after the crackdown. (GamerSky)

Bruce Lee lives again through NFTs

On April 12, the Bruce Lee Foundation announced that it would partner with NFT video platform Shibuya to launch a collection of Genesis NFTs featuring the late legendary martial arts actor, who died under mysterious circumstances in 1973 at the age of 32. The House of Lee collection is minted on the Ethereum network from April 12th to April 14th with a sale on Manifold and digital image storage on Arove.

Bruce Lee Genesis NFT (ARWV)
Bruce Lee Genesis NFT (ARWV)

There is no limit to the number of NFTs minted during the sale. At the time of publication, the current floor price of over 19,592 House of Lee digital collections is made up of approximately 0.008 Ether. The Bruce Lee NFT was drawn by artists Maciej Cucciara and Emily Young, with the design inspired by Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter and president of the Bruce Lee Estate. An Ethereum name service address has also been registered for collection at bruceleeofficial.eth.

China’s 30M Crypto Users Despite Ban

According to a joint research report published on April 10 by Foresight News, CoinNess and BlockTempo, China still has about 30 million crypto users, representing about 2.12% of its population, compared to 12% for the US and 11% for Taiwan. Researchers have cited the September 2021 People’s Bank of China ban on crypto-fiat transactions as the “nail in the coffin” for China’s industry.

China's Crypto Users Decline But Still Thrive (Visionary Initiative)
China’s Crypto Users Decline But Still Thrive (Visionary Initiative)

That said, the report also notes that Hong Kong is becoming a growing hub for blockchain technology in Asia. In February 2023, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) proposed a pathway for exchanges to obtain regulatory licenses by meeting custody, know-your-customer, record-keeping and risk management requirements. The policy is scheduled to come into effect from June 1, 2023

Interestingly, Foresight wrote that due to campaign spending during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, China’s digital yuan central bank digital currency (CBDC) had only 13.61 billion in circulation, representing just 0.13% of China’s M0 or outstanding money supply. “Trade settlement applications are still in development and are only accepted by very limited partners,” the firm noted.

Despite the headwinds, three major venture capital firms, Hashkey Capital, Dragonfly and Foresight Ventures, are still active in the mainland China region. Notable projects originating from China include Conflux, Alchemy Pay, Animoca Brands and Certic.

Hong Kong’s growing Web3 power

Hong Kong Web 3.0 Festival Gallery Hall (Twitter)
Hong Kong Web 3.0 Festival Gallery Hall (Twitter)

On April 12, over 10,000 crypto enthusiasts and 300 guest speakers gathered in Hong Kong for the special administrative region’s annual Web3 festival. During his debut, Hong Kong Chief Executive Lee Ka-chiu pledged to allocate 700 million Hong Kong dollars ($89.17 million) from this year’s budget to accelerate the development of digital assets and Web3 technology in the region. Hong Kong’s Financial Secretary Chan Mo-po also commented:

“Web3 is in its infancy, and current common applications include cryptocurrency, decentralized exchanges, digital identity verification, DeFi, blockchain games, and even NFT but it is conceivable that there will be many more new applications and opportunities in the future. From a historical perspective, the development of Web 3 will accelerate after the shock phase.”

For Justin Sun, founder of Tron and de facto owner of cryptocurrency exchange Huobi Global, the 2023 Hong Kong Web3 Festival looks like the pinnacle of his blockchain career. First, before his arrival, Sun claimed to have successfully turned around Huobi’s operations after several years of stagnation, posting an impressive profit of $30 million in the first quarter of 2023.

Then, surprisingly, the blockchain personality dismissed rumors that he had been arrested on arrival in Hong Kong. In 2019, Sun allegedly hired a smuggler to help him bypass mainland China’s border controls and flee the country. This is compounded by exit restrictions due to Tron’s involvement in its initial coin offering (ICO), which took place days before China banned ICOs. Sun has been out of mainland China ever since. Interestingly, no extradition treaty exists between China and Hong Kong, after pro-democracy student uprisings overturned a bill for such a measure in 2019. The protests, as a result, were rejected by China’s central government.

Thanks to the students’ sacrifices, Sun was able to land safely in Hong Kong and meet face-to-face with Nina, an iPollo community ambassador whom Sun wanted. characteristics In a Huobi beauty pageant and “[personally] Guaranteed as a finalist in the top 20.” Unfortunately, not everyone seems to be swayed by Surya’s attempts at flirtation. When the sun reaches its peak to party Aboard a Binance yacht, the US Securities and Exchange Commission issued a subpoena to Sun on April 12, kindly reminding him of his obligation to appear in court on charges of fraud and securities law violations.

“If you fail to respond, judgment will be entered against you by default for the relief claimed in the complaint. You must file your answer or proposal with the court.”

The SEC complaint filed on March 26 alleges that Sun and his companies, Tron and BitTorrent, “fraudulently” manipulated the secondary market of Tron tokens through “extensive wash trading,” conducting more than 600,000 such trades and paying numerous American celebrities. did To promote TRX and BitTorrent (BTT) tokens with zero exposure.

since the sun stated That the SEC complaint “lacks merit” and that the regulatory agency is “still in its infancy and in need of further development” when it comes to digital assets. The case is ongoing. On the same day of the subpoena, Binance.US announced that it would drop TRX from its platform.

Justin Sun blushes while sharing a stage with Nina on April 11, oblivious to the legal threats that will materialize the next day.
Justin Sun blushes while sharing a stage with Nina on April 11, oblivious to the legal threats that will materialize the next day. (twitter)

Zhiyuan Sun

Zhiyuan Sun is a reporter for Cointelegraph with a focus on tech-related news. He has years of experience writing for major financial media outlets such as The Motley Fool, Nasdaq.com and Seeking Alpha.

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