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China continues to show support for the blockchain industry despite harsh crackdowns and a ban on cryptocurrency. Photo: Shutterstock

China makes up 84 per cent of blockchain applications worldwide, state official says, but only a fifth are approved

  • An official at China’s industry regulator did not give a timeline for the figure, but he touted blockchain’s advantage in service integration
  • The comments show Beijing’s continued commitment to blockchain technology despite a strict ban on cryptocurrencies
China has the most blockchain patent applications of any country, accounting for 84 per cent of the world’s total, a government official said, signalling Beijing’s continued commitment to the technology despite years of crackdowns and a ban on cryptocurrency.

Wang Jianwei, deputy director of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s information technology development office, disclosed the figure on Tuesday without specifying the time frame. He added that blockchain “accelerates integration with the economy, services for people’s livelihoods, smart cities and administrative services”.

“Many of the blockchain patents don’t apply to blockchain only, but also traditional internet technology, such as privacy computing and cryptography”, said Gao Chengshi, a cryptography expert who is a founding partner of blockchain developer Shanghai Hashvalue Information Technology.

HSBC, Hong Kong firms sign up for China’s state-backed blockchain

Blockchain is a decentralised ledger technology that is best known as the underpinning of cryptocurrencies, starting with bitcoin in 2009. The fact that it is open source and does not require a central authority to run has made it appealing for a variety of applications, but in China, these so-called permissionless blockchains are restricted, requiring registration with the Cyberspace Administration of China.
China instead has high hopes for permissioned blockchains, or those that limit who can alter the ledger. In 2019, President Xi Jinping said blockchain would play “an important role in the next round of technological innovation and industrial transformation”.

From 2015 through June 2021, blockchain patent applications from China accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the global total, followed by the US and South Korea, according to a report by think tank 01Caijing and patent consultancy PatSnap.

However, only 19 per cent of China’s applications wound up being approved, while US and South Korean applications had approval rates of 26 per cent and 43 per cent, respectively, according to the report.

China has a strained relationship with blockchain. Cryptocurrencies are banned, prohibiting people from legally participating in mainstream overseas blockchains like bitcoin and Ethereum. This could result in China’s blockchain industry remaining separate from the international community amid a flurry of development activity in Web3, a loosely-defined next-generation version of the World Wide Web that is decentralised through technologies like blockchain.


China calls for more research and investment into blockchain technology

China calls for more research and investment into blockchain technology
China’s state-backed Blockchain Service Network (BSN) has been working to sever cryptocurrencies from its network. This month it launched its Spartan Network, which forks popular blockchains including Ethereum and Polygon Edge and prohibits fungible tokens used for cryptocurrencies.

The first batch of users consists of more than 10 companies in Hong Kong, including traditional conglomerates such as Emperor Group, HSBC, Lan Kwai Fong Group and Maxim’s Group, BSN announced on September 6.