The “Blockchain Race”: The Weaponization of Blockchain for Politics

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The space race was the competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for spaceflight dominance. We raced to land the first man on the moon. Instead of direct conflict, we fought under the pretense of technological advancement. In the 21st century, there is now a new ‘Space War’ under the guise of blockchain adoption.

On Oct 25, 2019, we witnessed Xi Jinping, the President of the Republic of China, openly adopt blockchain as a tool to alleviate poverty and business financing. He publicly stated:

“that the country [China] should commit to accelerating the development of blockchain and aim at taking the leading position in the emerging technology”

The response from Xi is interpreted as a direct response to the U.S government’s attack on Libra days before. The House Financial Service Committee grilled Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook chief executive officer, from diversity to child pornography. Few representatives questioned Mr. Zuckerberg on the use case of Libra, Facebook’s cryptocurrency. Instead, questions about the cryptocurrency showed how little the U.S government knows or cares about the technology. They focused on the problems that either has little to do with Libra or questioned its impact on the U.S dollar:

“Facebook is already too big and too powerful, and it has used that power to exploit users’ data without protecting their privacy […] We cannot allow Facebook to run a risky new cryptocurrency out of a Swiss bank account without oversight.”

Most attacks from U.S representatives were launched against Facebook’s negligence and not against Libra itself. Libra is just an intermediary used between the “send” and “received” currency to facilitate exchange and is not meant to be a threat to the value of the U.S dollar.

Xi Jinping took an opposing view today. He stressed the value of blockchain as a mean of modernizing China and overtaking the U.S as the world economic leader. Because of his public statements today, China’s president has now weaponized blockchain advancement as a political tool. We can now expect a fight for blockchain supremacy. He has seized an opportunity in which the U.S failed to capture.

There is no doubt that the rivalry between the U.S and China will now accelerate the growth and acceptance of blockchain technology. The U.S is now forced to change its stance on blockchain adoption. The technology disputes industries from financial service to healthcare, areas ripe for creative destruction. We cannot forget that we are a country bent on being the number one economic force in the world, meaning that we do not want to lose to China.

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