Bitcoin Diplomacy and a New China Communiqu: Cooperation, Not Competition



The popularity of Bitcoins is a sign of many things and confirmation of still others: That economic theory, grounded in mathematical truth and inspired by the principles of at least one Nobel Laureate (Milton Friedman), is now an actuality, thanks to global communications and sophisticated technology.

The financial implications of this moment the rise and success of an alternative currency are historic, but they confront a political force of equal importance; an issue of national pride and financial projection, in which central banks and public officials treat their respective dollars, yen, yuan, euros and pesos as miniature proxy flags, each emblazoned with the images of patriarchs, presidents, premiers and prime ministers; the colors and coinage constituting a mlange of ideologies and commemorative events, all signifying the enormity of Power.

Put simply, there is economic fact and political reality; and supporters of Bitcoin must reconcile these competing demands, so there can be a cooperative relationship with countries that presently have restrictions concerning the use of this digital form of payment. Nowhere is that point more relevant than in China, where stability trumps triumphant words and exuberant emotions.

For the last 75-years of Chinese history, from the fury of the Second World War and the Long March of Mao Zedong, across 6,000 miles of treacherous terrain and through the Western provinces and the Yellow River, to the stalemate of the Korean War and the aftermath of cultural revolutions and great leaps forward; amid crowds, thousands deep, waving Mao’s “Little Red Book,” to the arrival of Air Force One in Beijing, the Thirty-seventh President of the United States shaking hands with Zhou Enlai, a gesture of momentous change; throughout these interesting times, with internal divisions and the transition of sovereignty over Hong Kong, with Mainland politics run by the Communist Party and economics infused with capitalist energy in these chapters of enslavement, liberation, ideology, reunification and trade, China has an unsurprising craving for harmony.

It is our job, as advocates for the increased use of Bitcoin, to assuage the concerns of Mainland bankers and public officials so that this alternative currency may flourish alongside the renminbi. We need to soften our own rhetoric, which is too often amplified throughout social media, and move away from the satisfaction of believing we are right to making other countries know they are right. Those countries, starting with China, deserve the confidence of tranquility, where Bitcoins will not supplant the renminbi or damage China’s economy.

Dialogue and Reassurance: The Pathway to Mainland Acceptance of Bitcoins

We, as a group, must, therefore answer our critics with lucidity and persuasive evidence while highlighting the financial benefits (for the People’s Bank of China) of eliminating restrictions against the acceptance of Bitcoins as a form of payment. Again, our tone must change because our influence has changed: Bitcoin is no longer a novel idea among a coterie of technophiles and libertarian activists, a unit of exchange within a self-contained echo chamber of amen sermons and encore readings of the works of acclaimed economists. Bitcoin is now an international phenomenon.

Also, I have nothing but respect for the early adopters of Bitcoins because those individuals the men and women with the resolution to birth this movement, to initially shelter and then strengthen it from an onslaught of personal attacks can claim, proudly, that they were “present at the creation”: That they foresaw and made real a digital peer-to-peer currency, accepted by merchants, legitimized by traders and used by consumers around the world. History will record these facts, and truth will perpetuate their longevity.

Now, our task is to reveal the existing success by, for and among Chinese citizens who use Bitcoins. We need look no further for proof of this statement than by reading the news involving the placement of Bitcoin ATM machines in Hong Kong. The headlines underscore the magnitude of this occasion, as a single ATM processed $1 million in transactions last month. The relevance for the Mainland, as a result of this milestone, is also clear.

Despite the Mainland’s adherence to “one country, two systems,” in which Hong Kong has its own currency and independent judiciary, and despite its status as one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People’s Republic of China, economic liberty the ideas themselves do not stop at the boundaries of a political map; they transcend or penetrate physical walls, invisible to guard towers and untraceable by radar, until they become a self-replicating theory, spreading from person to person and flourishing throughout a particular culture.

Aware of these facts, and with the knowledge of the revenues available to them, the Mainland will likely ease or eliminate restrictions against Bitcoins provided we maintain our quiet diplomacy, while also emphasizing the use of Bitcoins as a possible hedge against inflation and as an investment opportunity for one of China’s sovereign wealth funds.

Through this communiqu of cooperation, we can celebrate one of the most astute Chinese proverbs: That when good fortune comes, no one can ever stop it.

About the author:
Hayden Gill is the Founder of Buzzdron Media, an innovative digital marketing and design agency. An expert concerning the use of Bitcoins for online transactions and e-commerce, Hayden can be reached at [email protected].