BTCC chief executive Bobby Lee does not think China currently has any plans to ease its hostile stance on domestic bitcoin exchanges, nor does he intend to reverse his support for the controversial SegWit2x hard fork that is scheduled to activate this month.
Lee made these statements during an Ask Me Anything (AMA) held on the BitcoinMarkets subreddit. Although the AMA touched on a number of topics, the vast majority of questions related to SegWit2x and the future of bitcoin in China.
SegWit2x & the New York Agreement
The SegWit2x hard fork, originally put into motion by the New York Agreement (NYA) and scheduled to activate in approximately two weeks, was the preeminent topic of discussion. BTCC — best known for its bitcoin exchange and mining pool — is an NYA signatory, and many participants wanted to know whether Lee intended to continue supporting SegWit2x, and if so, how BTCC intended to treat the incumbent blockchain following the fork.
Lee reaffirmed BTCC’s commitment to the NYA, stating that he believed bitcoin should continue to scale on-chain as well as through second-layer solutions. Because he considers SegWit2x to be a planned upgrade to the bitcoin protocol, he brushed off concerns that its developers should implement replay protection, which would ensure that there is a clean break between the incumbent and forked blockchains following SegWit2x activation.
“Replay protection is not needed for change-of-consensus upgrades to the bitcoin network. That’s been the consistent practice over the past nine years,” he said.
Lee further incited the ire of SegWit2x opponents — including his own brother, Litecoin creator Charlie Lee — by suggesting on multiple occasions that the incumbent bitcoin blockchain will be an altcoin following the hard fork’s activation. When asked how BTCC would respond if the incumbent blockchain prevailed against the forked chain, he stated that it would mean that an altcoin had become the most valuable cryptocurrency:
“If the bitcoins on the upgraded bitcoin blockchain (SegWit2x) become less valuable than altcoins, then that’s the market deciding that bitcoin is no longer number one, and an altcoin has taken over the top spot,” he said. However, I will not just rename the most expensive altcoin to “bitcoin” just because it has the highest market value.”
Charlie Lee was not amused. “Extremely lame,” he tweeted in response. “Bitcoin (BTC) is not an altcoin. I have explained to you multiple times that miners don’t decide consensus.”
China’s Bitcoin Exchange Ban
Prior to its closure in September as a result of the Chinese prohibition on cryptocurrency exchanges, BTCC’s Chinese trading platform was the longest-running bitcoin exchange. Consequently, many participants were curious to hear Lee’s take on the Chinese government’s stance on cryptocurrency.
Specifically, Lee was asked about the recent rumors that regulators are preparing to allow bitcoin trading to resume in a heavily-regulated environment. He stated that he does not believe they are true.
“I’ve also heard those rumors, but from what I can see here on the ground, there are no plans for bitcoin exchanges to reopen in China,” Lee said, “Certainly, it’s possible for policies to change in the future, as nothing is permanent in life. But change can happen in weeks or months, or take years or decades…..What positions Chinese authorities take in the future and how they regulate bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is really up to them.”
Despite this uncertain future, Lee stated that bitcoin’s future in China remains bright. “I strongly believe that bitcoin will remain popular in China and will continue to increase in popularity there, just like how it has worldwide,” he concluded.
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