The Chinese city of Xiongan is set to become the site of a groundbreaking blockchain deployment program, the first of its kind anywhere in the world. According to the South China Morning Post report on July 23, the new blockchain development and deployment scheme is the product of a new partnership between Xiongan and global blockchain development company, ConsenSys.
Blockchain in Xi Jinping’s Dream City
Xiongan has long held little significance in a country with several imposing urban centers like Shanghai and Beijing. Under a new policy led by Chinese president Xi Jinping, however, the area is set to transform itself into an ultra-modern metropolis under an ambitious new “dream city” project. The Chinese government describes the “Dream City” as central to its urban strategy for the new millennium, and it aims to pour as much as $348 billion of investment into the area over the next ten years.
One of the critical areas the Xiongan government is exploring as it targets world-leading status is the ability of blockchain technology to aid and revolutionize how municipal service delivery takes place. Using the blockchain, Xiongan hopes to drastically improve the efficiency and reliability of government operations and public services. To this end, the government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ethereum developer, ConsenSys, in Beijing on July 23, 2018.
Source: ConsenSys Media
For ConsenSys, the partnership is another of the company’s several global engagements which focus on financial services and government advisory services for public service blockchain deployment. According to a statement from ConsenSys founder, Joseph Lubin, quoted in the South China Morning Post, ConsenSys will work with the Xiongan government to develop blockchain and software solutions. The statement reads in part:
“As one of our first major projects in the People’s Republic of China, we are excited to help define the many ‘use cases’ that could benefit from the trust infrastructure enabled by ethereum technology.”
The MOU marks a watershed moment for China as it is the first time that a foreign company has been engaged to play a direct role in Xiongan’s plan to integrate its urban development with blockchain technology. Previously, space was restricted to Chinese players like Tencent, Ant Financial, and Qihoo 360, which took part in blockchain pilot programs ranging from finance to accommodation to cybersecurity.
China Says Yes to Blockchain, No to Crypto
BTCManager earlier reported that China has adopted one of the most hostile stances on cryptocurrency by any major economy. Last year, ICOs were banned, and shortly afterward, cryptocurrency trading was also forbidden, leading to an exodus of several crypto exchange companies. China’s ban on cryptocurrencies is so compelling that the Yuan’s global share of Bitcoin-fiat transactions has fallen from more than 90 percent to below one percent.
This notwithstanding, China continues to have a soft spot for the blockchain technology that underlies cryptocurrencies. BTCManager reported in May that Chinese president Xi Jinping described the blockchain as a “breakthrough technology,” and China has become a hub for a growing number of blockchain startups dealing with gaming, accounting, and supply chain activities.