Bitcoin climbed past the US$11,000 level for the first time since mid-July to lead gains among the biggest cryptocurrencies, as risk assets across Asia tumbled on escalating trade war tensions. The largest cryptocurrency surged as much as 12 per cent from Friday’s close and traded at US$11,565 at 12:50pm in Hong Kong, according to consolidated Bloomberg pricing. The Bloomberg Galaxy Crypto Index tracking a basket of cryptocurrencies jumped as much as 7.2 per cent, as rival digital coins including Ether and XRP also rallied. “With the turmoil in markets and the streets, suddenly digital gold doesn’t seem like such a bad idea,” said Jehan Chu, managing partner at blockchain investment and advisory firm Kenetic Capital. “Bitcoin is increasingly seen not only as a bet on the future, but as a shelter for the present.” China’s yuan fell past 7 per US dollar, a key psychological level for traders, roiling global markets and driving other currencies lower. The risk-off shift intensified on reports China had asked state buyers to halt imports of American agriculture imports, further escalating trade tensions after US President Donald Trump last week proposed adding 10 per cent tariffs on another US$300 billion in Chinese imports starting September 1. “A lot of this might have to do with some capital flight out of China” after Trump’s tariff announcement, said Tom Maxon, head of US operations at electronic-payment products company CoolBitX. He said it was hard to tell for sure, adding that the current bitcoin bull market has produced a lot of positive dynamics that could be fuelling the move as well. Is bitcoin becoming the new gold as investors seek shelter from trade war in safe havens? Bitcoin’s rally this month comes after a July sell-off as US lawmakers and Trump questioned Facebook’s plan to create its own cryptocurrency Libra. The digital currency has seen prices triple this year after a difficult 2018. “Bitcoin should test US$12,000 soon,” said Charles Yang, head trader at Hong Kong-based over-the-counter digital-asset trading firm Genesis Block. “This is, of course, assuming we believe macro issues actually drive bitcoin.” For more insights into China technology, be part of our Inside China Tech group on Facebook. Listen to our Inside China Tech podcast and subscribe via iTunes, Spotify or Stitcher. For a comprehensive survey of China’s digital landscape, download the 2019 China Internet Report .