It appears that the Chinese government is getting serious in its cryptocurrency crackdown. A number of accounts on popular messaging app WeChat have recently been closed for publishing ICO-related materials. Meanwhile, hotels and shopping malls are now banned from hosting events that promote cryptocurrencies.
WeChat Bans Crypto Accounts
On Tuesday, Aug 21, WeChat permanently deleted at least nine accounts that used to regularly post news and updates on cryptocurrencies and blockchain, according to a report by Quartz. WeChat is a Tencent’s popular messaging app with over a billion users, so popular accounts on the platform are considered influential because of their sizable audience reach.
Among those affected are the WeChat accounts of Caijing, Coindaily, Huobi Zixun and Shenlian — media outlets that are focused on giving updates on crypto news and are considered popular in this category. Naturally, the sudden closure of these accounts alarmed China’s crypto community as the move is interpreted as a warning for outlets that are too outspokenly supportive of initial coin offerings (ICOs).
Initially, WeChat was vague in its reason for the account closures and said that they violated some of China’s instant messaging service regulations, without specifying just which rules were violated. However, a later report by South China Morning Post revealed that the accounts were “suspected of publishing information related to ICOs [initial coin offerings] and speculations on cryptocurrency trading.”
Beijing District Bans Hotels, Malls From Hosting Crypto-related Events
In a separate incident, the central Chaoyang district of Beijing issued a ban on hotels, shopping malls and even office buildings, prohibiting them from hosting events that promote cryptos.
The ban was initially leaked online but was later confirmed by the South China Morning Post with Beijing authorities. Apparently, the ban was triggered by a recent event hosted by an overseas crypto exchange. However, the report failed to identify which foreign exchange hosted the event and also did not give details on why the event triggered the ban.
While the WeChat account closures and the Beijing ban are separate incidents, there are fears that the two incidents might signal that the Chinese government could be planning further crackdown on cryptocurrencies.