Regulators have banned Chinese bitcoin exchange executives from leaving the country while officials continue their crackdown on cryptocurrency trading and potentially prepare to launch a digital token controlled by the central bank.
According to a Beijing News report, Chinese bitcoin exchange executives are barred indefinitely from traveling outside the country to ensure that they “cooperate with the investigation” into cryptocurrency trading, which has now been ruled illegal. It appears the travel restriction extends to executives from all Chinese bitcoin exchanges, but details remain unclear.
According to a rough translation of the report, all exchange executives, shareholders, and operators must remain in China to assist investigators during the “clean-up period”:
Many informed sources have disclosed that at present various bitcoin trading platform [executives] are not allowed to leave Beijing to cooperate with the investigation. In accordance with regulatory requirements, trading platform shareholders, the actual controller,…and executives must fully cooperate with the relevant work in Beijing in this clean-up period.
The Australian Financial Review cited a source close to Huobi who said, Li Lin–the exchange’s founder–must “report to the authorities and cooperate with their work at any time,” although Quartz spoke to representatives from both Huobi and OKCoin who denied knowledge of the ban.
This report adds to the developing saga of China’s increasingly-comprehensive crackdown on cryptocurrency. What began as a ban on initial coin offerings has extended not only to all order-book exchanges located inside the country but also to peer-to-peer trading platforms such as BitKan. This is significant because over-the-counter trading services experienced a notable spike in yuan-related trading in the week following the exchange ban. Though still unconfirmed, reports have also emerged suggesting that regulators will come after miners next and ultimately attempt to block Chinese residents from accessing foreign exchanges and other bitcoin-related websites.
Meanwhile, a researcher with ties to the Chinese central bank renewed calls for the government to adopt a state-backed cryptocurrency “under the auspices of the central bank as soon as possible,” fueling speculation that the crackdown on decentralized cryptocurrencies is a pretense for the state to launch its own, centralized digital currency.
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