After a one-year hiatus, Our Man in Shanghai returns, but he’s no longer based in Shanghai (the crypto crackdown was a factor in the column’s retirement), so a rebranding is in order. This space is now called “Asia Express,” and it’s a weekly roundup of news from mainland China and Taiwan and the rest of Asia too. Check in each Friday for news about Asia’s more influential projects, changes in the regulatory landscape and enterprise blockchain integrations. Much has changed since the last edition on Dec. 17, 2021. Without further ado, let’s dig in.
China’s national NFT market
In a joint effort between the state-owned Chinese Technology Exchange, the state-owned Art Exhibitions China and the corporation Huban Digital Copyrights Ltd, China’s first national NFT marketplace is scheduled to come online this week.
It’s designed as a secondary market for trading digital collectibles, along with copyrights for digital assets. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s built on China’s national Wenbao, or “cultural protection” blockchain, which helps verify the authenticity of artifacts and commercial goods. Currently, only the NFT platform’s landing page is accessible.
1,400 blockchain firms in China
On Dec. 29, the state-owned China Academy for Information and Communications Technology, or CAICT, disclosed in its national white paper that over 1,400 blockchain firms are operating in the country despite strict regulations. Together, Chinese and U.S. blockchain firms account for 52% of such entities globally. In one example of distributed ledger applications in public service, CAICT researchers wrote:
“[In the] Zhejiang Provincial blockchain electronic invoice platform, [authorities] used blockchain’s multiple access point and decentralized process capabilities, along with technological highlights such as smart contracts, to improve the trust verification across various departments. This led to the digital circulation of electronic invoices; their issuance, receipt, inspection, reimbursement, and improved the information management level and service capabilities of electronic invoices in financial departments.”
Similarly, local news outlet Shanghai Securities News reported that the digital yuan central bank digital currency, or e-CNY CBDC, surpassed 104.8 billion Chinese yuan ($15.21 billion) in usage in the province of…