Some of China’s largest tech companies, including JD, Tencent and Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services Group, have signed a “self-regulatory pact” that includes a commitment to “combat” or “eliminate” crypto assets.
The agreement was signed at a meeting led by the National Copyright Exchange Alliance, a government-led copyright regulator established by a decree of the State Council, the executive arm of China’s central government.
Ant Financial Services, the financial technology arm of Alibaba, the cloud computing arm of tech and entertainment giant Tencent, and the IT arm of e-commerce giant JD, also known as Jingdong, were present, along with the China Academy of Art, the Hangzhou Internet Notary Office in Zhejiang province, and a unit of state-owned media group CCTV.
The main focus of the summit was on digital art, audio and video content, but the text of the agreement included several references to cryptocurrencies and blockchain. Both parties pledged to foster a healthy ecosystem for “digital cultural creation” in China.
They agreed on the need to use blockchain technology to help improve the “authenticity and credibility” of digital works for distribution, purchase and collection, praising its ability to “protect creators’ rights” and combat counterfeiting.
However, they also agreed to ensure that cryptocurrencies do not enter the field, adding that their efforts should ensure that “speculative and financial risks” are kept away and that there is a cryptocurrency-free policy that ensures “protection against the risk of money laundering.”
Whether they are acting on their own initiative or as a response to heightened pressure from Beijing, Anthem and Tencent support a form of self-regulation that seeks to keep cryptocurrencies firmly in the shadows.
Anthem has released a list of “taboos” for digital content – including a pledge to “resolutely resist” all “activities” related to “crypto assets” and to combat “malicious speculation on the price of digital items” – and the company has also essentially pledged not to develop or handle non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in connection with financial products.
Last month, Tencent’s digital arm made similar noises, pledging to develop its own digital content under a “compliance framework” and to “resolutely resist illegal activities related to [crypto assets].”
Both companies, like Kyodo, had been pursuing NFT-powered business paths prior to this September’s cryptocurrency crackdown, but have been forced to make some sort of shift to ensure their tokens are published on private blockchains rather than on popular networks like Ether (ETH).
This apparent creep took a new turn last month when tech giants agreed to start calling their NFT projects “digital collectibles” or “digital collectibles” – another sign that Beijing will not tolerate cryptocurrency-related language in the commercial space.