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China blocks multiple cryptocurrency-related social media accounts amid raids

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In this illustration image from June 2, 2021, representations of the Bitcoin cryptocurrency can be seen in front of a picture of Chinese flags. REUTERS / Florence Lo / Illustration

SHANGHAI, June 7 (Reuters) – A number of crypto-related accounts on China’s Twitter-like Weibo platform were suspended over the weekend as Beijing cracked down on bitcoin trading and mining.

According to analysts and a financial regulator, further measures are expected, including a more direct link between illegal crypto activities in China and the country’s criminal law.

Last month, China’s state council or cabinet pledged to crack down on bitcoin mining and trading, and a campaign against cryptocurrencies escalated days after three industry bodies banned crypto-related finance and payment services.

Over the weekend, several widely used crypto-related Weibo accounts were denied access with a message stating that each account was “violating laws and regulations”.

“It’s a judgment day for crypto-KOL,” wrote a Weibo Bitcoin commentator or key opinion leader (KOL), who herself said, “Dr. Bitcoin Mini “is called. Her main account was also blocked on Saturday.

“The government is making it clear that there cannot be a Chinese version of Elon Musk in the Chinese crypto market,” said Winston Ma, associate professor at NYU Law School, referring to the Tesla founder and cryptocurrency enthusiast.

Ma, author of The Digital War, also expects China’s Supreme Court to publish a judicial interpretation soon that could link crypto mining and trading companies to China’s criminal law.

The view was shared by a financial regulator, who said that such an interpretation would remove the legal ambiguity that bitcoin trading companies have not clearly identified as “illegal deals”. All previous rules against cryptocurrencies in China have been published by administrative authorities.

The Weibo freeze comes as Chinese media start reporting against crypto trading.

The official Xinhua news agency has published articles exposing a number of scams related to crypto. State broadcaster CCTV has said that cryptocurrency is a lightly regulated asset that is widely used in black market trafficking, money laundering, arms smuggling, gambling, and drug trafficking.

The crackdown also comes as China’s central bank accelerates testing of its own digital currency.

Reporting by Samuel Shen and Andrew Galbraith. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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