Chinese crypto-related social media accounts blocked amid tightened scrutiny
Published: Jun 06, 2021 06:58 PM
A visual representation of the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin Photo: AFP

A visual representation of the digital cryptocurrency Bitcoin Photo: AFP

A number of Chinese social media accounts related to cryptocurrencies, which have followers ranging from several thousand to several hundred thousand, were blocked by Sina Weibo over the weekend, as the country tightened scrutiny over the industry to prevent systemic financial risks and illegal activities such as money laundering.

The blocked accounts feature some of the most influential online celebrities in the digital currency industry, such as Trader Xiaoxia, Fat Nerds Bitcoin, Super Bitcoin and Blockchain William. Some of those account owners are reportedly billionaires owing to investments in digital currencies. 

The account suspensions were apparently carried out by Sina Weibo, the social media platform. A search on Sina Weibo shows that they're being blocked because they're suspected of violating relevant laws and regulations concerning Weibo community conventions.

The price of Bitcoin plunged below $35,000 at one point on Sunday, before regaining some losses. 

Industry observers and insiders see the blockages as another signal of China's stricter supervision of the chaotic crypto industry, which is mired in mounting irregularities and speculation that could build up tremendous risks in the country's financial system.

"This is another strike against the industry chain after the recent crackdown on Bitcoin mining. It specifically targets upstream sectors such as marketing for initial coin offerings (ICO), as well as sales and investor acquisition," Wang Peng, an assistant professor at the Gaoling School of Artificial Intelligence at the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

An industry insider, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told the Global Times on Sunday that some online industry "tutors" have been reaching "underground trading deals" with ICO project developers.

Generally, the two parties join together to exaggerate a project's benefits and drive the price up, then "tutors" lure investors to spend a lot.  The two parties manipulate the price to make a huge profit as it tumbles.

The source said that the crackdown is conducive to rectifying the crypto market's order and alerting the public to the risks of cryptocurrency trading. 

Local governments across China, such as North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, are doubling down on curbs on cryptocurrency mining, after Chinese officials stressed cracking down on Bitcoin mining and trading during a recent high-level meeting. 

Officials in Southwest China's Sichuan Province have also solicited suggestions from industry players on local mining operations of Bitcoin.

Another industry insider, who prefers not to be identified, told the Global Times on Sunday that some Bitcoin miners in Inner Mongolia are moving to Southwest China's Sichuan and Yunnan, where hydroelectric resources are abundant - as a temporary transition plan.

"They expect local regulators there could take a softer approach due to a surplus of hydroelectric resources. They're also consulting on opening mines in North America. Most of them don't have experience in opening mines overseas, so the migration could take a bit longer," the insider said.