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🔮Clarifying misconceptions about Beijing's "Web3" white paper | Following the yuan
Don't get too excited about the document's implications for the crypto/NFT market; however, it further shows that China's bullish on hi-tech.
This is a quick post about Beijing’s new white paper on “Internet 3.0”, which after China banned all crypto transactions in 2021, has been seen as “wind of change” and “shift in tone” by some professionals.
Well, it’s not, and the misconception larges comes from the mistranslation of the document title.
What is it? Dubbed the "Innovation and Development of Beijing’s Internet 3.0 White Paper (2023)," the 98-page document was released last Saturday by the Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission, aka Administrative Commission of Zhongguancun Science Park. You can read/translate the full version here [Chinese].
In it, the municipal Commission lays out their understanding of ‘the Metaverse’, ‘Web3’ and ‘Internet 3.0’ in the first few pages, and goes out to envision a future for ‘Internet 3.0’, which is defined as "a 3D space that is highly immersive and interactive and merges the virtual and physical spaces… the sector of Internet 3.0 includes highly immersive sensory experiences and experiences of economic activities that combine the virtual and physical worlds; it encompasses the Metaverse and Web3." (Page. 3 & 4).
That sounds familiar right? The municipal commission’s plan of ‘internet 3.0’ is similar to China’s vision for the Metaverse, which I recently penned for the Wired.
Furthermore, the Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission’s “Internet 3.0” white paper lists the key underlying technologies as:
XR imaging display, software & hardware
Digital content production
Before you get excited — the elaboration on ‘Blockchain’ is less than one page and does not mention crypto, but the state-backed consortium blockchain ChainMaker instead. So I really don’t know what’s there to be excited about.
The bigger picture: Instead of “a shift in tone”, I think China’s stance on Web3 has been consistent: first and foremost, there’s no pedaling back on a crypto ban.
In a typical Chinese manner, Beijing intends to define Web3 with Chinese characteristics, which means free from crypto, free from public blockchain and free from decentralization.
There’s still value in the white paper, and the aforementioned technological sector, though. If you’re interested in investing in the country’s hi-tech sector, you should flip through Page 7-21 under the chapter “Key technologies and applications of Internet 3.0” to study how the developers of China’s ‘Silicon Valley’ want to steer the wheel.
What could’ve gone wrong? Some early promoters of the news including central crypto exchange Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) pointed out the interesting timing for the release, as Hong Kong plans to let retail investors in the special administration region to trade larger coins on June 1. (Previously, people in the region could trade crypto but it wasn’t regulated/written into law.)
His tweet thread has garnered nearly 4M impressions before I publish the post.
It’s likely that the commission correlated the date, or it’s a pure conincidence. It’s also likely that CZ wanted to make some buzz for HK as the region’s government and investors strive to make the region Asia’s crypto hub, or most likely, he didn’t read the whole thing before tweeting.
I can’t determine the answers for sure.
But I simply can’t take it when I see content like the one below that implies Beijing’s white paper would ignite crypto’s bull run. To them, I can only sum up my thoughts with a Chinese slang “[they] are either stupid or bad (不是蠢就是坏)”. 🔚
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As a translator-turned-journalist, I aim to ensure the accuracy of communication between China and the English-speaking world throughout my career. Please support my work by considering making a pledge.