The weekly roundup of news from East Asia highlights the most crucial industry developments in the region. The report for the week ending April 17, 2023, covers five main areas: Douyin’s (Tiktok) brief display of cryptocurrency rates in China, the Bruce Lee NFT collection, the number of cryptocurrency users in China, Hong Kong’s rising power in Web3, and the legal issues surrounding Tron founder Justin Sun.
Douyin’s display of cryptocurrency rates sparks brief speculation in China: Chinese social media platform Douyin, a Chinese version of Tiktok, briefly posted cryptocurrency rates on April 10, including Bitcoin (BTC), Dogecoin (DOGE), and Ripple (XRP), sparking excitement from Chinese media and users. However, within 24 hours, the rates were removed, accompanied by a message stating that “unofficial digital currencies do not possess the same legal standing as fiat currencies. Please invest cautiously.” The move shows that China is still actively enforcing its 2021 ban on cryptocurrency exchanges, initial coin offerings, and crypto-fiat transactions brokered by financial institutions. However, Hong Kong is trying to establish itself as a crypto hub.
Bruce Lee Foundation announces Bruce Lee NFT collection: The Bruce Lee Foundation has announced its partnership with NFT video platform Shibuya to launch a collection of genesis NFTs featuring the late martial arts actor. The Bruce Lee NFT collection, called the House of Lee, is on sale on Manifold from April 12 to April 14 and is minted on the Ethereum network, with its digital image storage on Arweave. The collection is open-ended, and the number of NFTs is unlimited. Over 19,592 digital collectibles have already been minted, with a current floor price of around 0.008 Ether, and the NFTs were designed by artists Maciej Kuciara and Emily Yang, based on inspiration from Shannon Lee, Bruce Lee’s daughter and president of the Bruce Lee Estate.
China still has 30 million active cryptocurrency users: Despite banning cryptocurrency trading, exchanges, and other related activities, China still has around 30 million cryptocurrency users, which represents roughly 2.12% of its population. In contrast, the United States and Taiwan have a higher percentage of cryptocurrency users, with 12% and 11%, respectively. The study, published by Foresight News, CoinNess, and BlockTempo, attributes China’s decline in cryptocurrency usage to the People’s Bank of China’s September 2021 ban on crypto-fiat transactions, which has significantly impacted the industry in China. However, Hong Kong is emerging as a blockchain technology hub in Asia.
Hong Kong accelerates the development of digital assets: The annual Web3 Festival was held in Hong Kong on April 12, where over 10,000 crypto enthusiasts and 300 guest speakers gathered to discuss the latest in blockchain and digital assets technology. The Hong Kong Chief Executive announced during the festival that HKD 700 million ($89.17 million) from this year’s budget will be allocated to accelerate the development of digital assets and Web3 technologies in the region. The financial secretary of Hong Kong also addressed the festival, stating that Web3 is in its infancy, and the current common applications include cryptocurrency, decentralized exchanges, digital identity verification, DeFi, blockchain games, and even NFT.
Tron founder Justin Sun faces allegations of fraud, but works towards establishing Tron: Justin Sun, the founder of Tron and the de facto owner of the Huobi Global cryptocurrency exchange, has flown to Hong Kong, causing controversy amid rumors of his arrest. Despite allegations of fraud made against Sun by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), he has successfully turned around Huobi’s operations, posting a Q1 2023 profit of $30 million. Sun faces charges of securities law violations and fraud, with the SEC alleging that he “fraudulently” manipulated the secondary market for Tron tokens through “extensive wash trading,” conducting more than 600,000 such trades, and also paid numerous American celebrities to promote Tron and BitTorrent (BTT) tokens with zero disclosure. Meanwhile, during the festival, Sun met with a community ambassador, Nina, whom he wishes to include as a contestant in the Top 20 in a Huobi beauty pageant. However, the mood was dampened by the looming legal threat, with the SEC issuing a subpoena on April 12. Binance.US also announced that TRX, the digital token issued by Tron, would be delisted from its platform. Despite these challenges, the blockchain visionary remains positive and optimistic about the potential of Tron as his and other major venture capital firms, including Hashkey Capital, Dragonfly, and Foresight Ventures, continue to invest in blockchain technology in mainland China.
East Asia remains a central player in the development and adoption of blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies, with China and Hong Kong particularly emerging as key players in the region. Despite this, regulatory and legal challenges continue to pose significant obstacles, with the recent developments surrounding Justin Sun and Tron serving as an example of the difficulties faced by cryptocurrency entrepreneurs in China.