The government-controlled broadcaster China Central Television, recently, dedicated an hour-long show to blockchain technology. The Sunday night broadcast of Dialogue focused on the potential of the technology and its future implications. This goes to show that the country has tremendous interest in distributed ledgers and wants to inform the citizens about it.

State Broadcasters Send a Message

The program titled Dialogue investigated blockchain technology, including its possible uses, current use cases and the risks that it brings to the world economy. Millions of TV viewers across the country were told that this technology is ten times as valuable as the internet.

Some government officials and prominent figures from the Chinese private sector were a part of this discussion. Most notably, Don Tapscott, the author of Blockchain Revolution, enlightened the users about the uses of Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT).

This is the biggest official endorsement of this technology in the country. Note that this is also the first time that the state broadcaster has ever talked about blockchains. The message was loud and clear: the government is not opposed to DLT and wants further development of this technology at home.

Yes to the Blockchain, No to Crypto

The show was critical about cryptocurrency projects. It talked about frauds related to blockchain projects too. However, the overall portrayal was positive.

The cryptocurrency experts are getting very excited about the change of tone. The crypto enthusiasts especially liked three sentences: 1) “The value of blockchain is ten times that of the Internet;” 2) “Blockchain is the machine that produces trust;” and 3) “Blockchain is the second era of the Internet.”

It is very palpable that the government, now, wants to push a blockchain-centric agenda to the world. They want the citizens to connect with this concept and come up with ideas of their own. Many tall claims were made during the program that, possibly, aimed to inspire entrepreneurs of the future.

One such claim was by Zhang Shoucheng, who is the founder of blockchain VC firm Danhua Capital and a physics professor at Stanford University. He not only talked about blockchains being more valuable than the internet but also suggested that the technology could give rise to companies with market values ten times higher than today’s top firms: Google and Facebook.

Gold Bitcoin on background of chart China flag. Source: Shutterstock.com
Gold Bitcoin on background of chart China flag. Source: Shutterstock.com

Chinese Blockchain Politics

It is quite evident now that the political agenda of Chinese national discourse is distributed ledger technology. President Xi Jinping urged his compatriots to become leaders in emerging technologies like blockchain, internet of things and artificial intelligence.

The new Asian soft diplomacy could be based on their ability to control and direct the tech world, which could be fueled by the talent and resources available to the second largest economy in the world. However, in forwarding its idea to embrace blockchains and leave cryptocurrencies behind, the country is generating its own Achilles heel.

A public blockchain finds incentives in tokenization, which means that the creation of a cryptocurrency is inevitable. Digital coins are one of the most fundamental aspects of the network.

What China is doing on a large scale right now suggests how it wants to keep the “head” but completely ignore the “tail.” Without virtual coins, blockchains could be surprisingly limited in their application. Of course, advancement in technology will make scaling without tokens possible but, eventually, there will be a need for those to exist.

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