Weibo cracks down on cryptocurrency influencers

In the country’s latest crackdown on cryptocurrencies, China’s Twitter equivalent Weibo has closed the accounts of 80 popular cryptocurrency influencers, some with as many as 1 million subscribers.

The accounts were accused of violating eight regulations in illegal fundraising, internet safety, and financial risk management, according to a statement made by Sina Finance on Tuesday.

The move comes after the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC)’s major nationwide crackdown in August 2022, which saw the regulator shut down 12,000 crypto-related accounts and remove 51,000 related social media posts across Weibo and Baidu.

At the time, the CAC wrote that the measures were taken to “remind the majority of netizens to establish correct investment concepts, enhance risk prevention awareness, refrain from participating in virtual currency trading hype activities, and beware of personal property damage.”

China’s cautious approach to cryptocurrencies has been established over the past decade through a series of gradual measures, beginning with banning banks from handling bitcoin transactions in 2013.

Then in September 2021, the government made its stance against cryptocurrencies even stronger when 10 government agencies declared all crypto transactions and services illegal, and set out to eliminate mining – the highly energy-intensive process by which new coins are generated and transactions are validated.

Beijing continues to keep a tight grip on cryptocurrency trading while promoting the use of its own digital RMB issued by the People’s Bank of China. As a centralized digital currency (crypto is decentralised), the digital RMB has the traceability of other blockchain currencies whilst providing direct government oversight of how and where the money is used.

Meanwhile, China’s now thriving underground crypto scene has adapted to successive crackdowns, dodging regulatory scrutiny by using virtual private networks and avoiding consuming too much energy in a single spot. According to estimates from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, China is a major Bitcoin hub accounting for a fifth of all processing power used to mine the cryptocurrency.


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