Many people are unaware that China is building its own version of nearly everything in the crypto industry. Now, Beijing is debuting its own (boring) version of NFTs.
The colossal, state-run cloud provider Blockchain Service Network (BSN) and other surveilled “bridges” allow crypto assets to pass over China’s border.
Even Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin didn’t know a BSN version of Ethereum existed, last year responding: “that decision was taken by the BSN group, it would be better to ask them for their reasoning. I think they simply want to give developers options.”
Last week, the Alibaba-sponsored media South China Morning Post (SCMP) published a white paper describing an NFT system for archiving historical assets on state-approved blockchains.
Alibaba hides ‘NFT’ for China’s government
Chinese tech giants Alibaba and Tencent recently scrubbed their websites of “NFTs” altogether.
Immediately before that erasure, Beijing officials referred to the NFT market as a “potentially huge bubble” and chastised marketplace operators.
Alibaba and Tencent kowtowed immediately, and now refer to NFTs as “digital collectibles.”
(NB: China’s government famously disappeared Alibaba founder Jack Ma, forcing him to step back from Alibaba’s operations. President Xi Jinping personally canceled Alibaba’s $37 billion IPO for its finance subsidiary Ant Group, which would’ve been the largest IPO in history.)
Now that China’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) is nearing its February 2022 launch date, Jinping has banned crypto mining and several independently-developed blockchain projects.
China plans to launch its CBDC during the next year’s Winter Olympics, tapping Tencent to help with its development.
Tech giants leaning into it
Seemingly undeterred by having to change the name of NFTs for the Chinese government, Alibaba has now launched a marketplace on which artists can create “digital collectibles” to copyright their work.
Its marketplace, Blockchain Digital Asset and Asset Trade, uses the New Copyright Blockchain platform created by the Sichuan Blockchain Association Copyright Committee.
SCMP claims that the system for archiving media posts will assist with preserving history. It refers to NFTs created using this system as “ARTIFACTs.”
SCMP will showcase the system with what it refers to as “key moments” in its archive. It claims to possess 118 years’ worth of material.
The ARTIFACT Project, alongside CryptoPunks’ Dapper Labs, has already launched the “NBA Top Shot” 1997 Series NFT trading cards, which includes events such as Princess Diana’s death and the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China.
Next, SCMB plans to create
NFTs state-sanctioned digital collectibles of moments from Hong Kong’s history.
It plans to launch its ARTIFACT project on a few blockchains pre-approved by the Chinese government. Its roadmap calls for a “decentralized” authentication system.
SCMP plans to launch a DAO for governing ARTIFACT. It published ARTIFACT’s ‘light paper’ on its website in July.
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