Monday 7 June 2021 1:21 pm

China blocks crypto social media accounts amid crackdown

A string of cryptocurrency-related social media accounts have been blocked in China as Beijing stepped up its crackdown on bitcoin trading and mining.

Over the weekend access was blocked to a number of widely-followed accounts on Weibo — the country’s equivalent of Twitter — with a message saying they “violate laws and rules”.

Further action is expected, including linking illegal crypto activities in China more directly with the country’s criminal law, according to analysts and a financial regulator.

Last month China’s State Cabinet vowed to crack down on bitcoin mining and trading, escalating a campaign against cryptocurrencies days after three industry bodies banned crypto-related financial and payment services.

The crackdown sparked a major crash in the price of Bitcoin, which is notorious for its volatility.

“The government makes it clear that no Chinese version of Elon Musk can exist in the Chinese crypto market,” said NYU Law School adjunct professor Winston Ma, referring to the Tesla founder, who regularly moves crypto markets with his tweets.

Ma also expects China’s supreme court to publish a judicial interpretation soon that may link crypto mining and trading businesses with the country’s body of criminal law — a view shared by a financial regulator.

Meanwhile Chinese state media has been ramping up negative coverage of cryptocurrencies, linking digital payments with a number of scams, as well as money laundering, gambling and drug dealing.

It came as Swiss crypto firm 21Shares said it will launch the first ever cryptocurrency exchange traded product (ETP) in the UK.

The ETP will be available on the Acquis exchange — a pan-European exchange based in London and Paris.