Chinese court calls for stronger crypto property rights

The Chinese Supreme Court believes that property laws covering digital currencies should be strengthened

Image of legal scales with Chinese flag in the background
The increasing recognition of cryptocurrencies as property also calls for strengthened regulations.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of China published a document that emphasised the need to strengthen the protection of property rights, particularly on “digital currency, network virtual property, and data. “

The document, entitled: “Opinions of the Supreme People’s Court and the National Development and Reform Commission on Providing Judicial Services and Guarantees for Accelerating the Improvement of the Socialist Market Economic System in the New Era,” stated its intent to penalise the “use of public power to infringe private property rights, illegal seizure and freezing of private enterprise property.”

It also encourages the improvement of asset management and supervision.

In addition, the court also calls for the punishment of all manner of infringement for property rights, including the embezzlement and sale of state-owned and public assets.

China has consistently been working on the mainstream recognition and integration of cryptocurrencies and its related technologies. The digital yuan, its version of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), has been under development since 2014.

This year, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) allowed the digital yuan to be tested across several high profile corporations within the country. Examples of companies participating in its soft launch, or who are looking to collaborate, include DiDi Chuxingi, China’s version of Uber, Meituan-Dianping; a Chinese group buying website, Bilibili; a video-sharing website, and the owner of social media network TikTok, ByteDance.

International food chains such as McDonald’s, Starbucks and Subway are also rumored to be interested in trialing the digital yuan.

In addition, four commercial banks and three telecom giants are also working to test the CBDC.

Last May, the country also passed a civil code which expands the scope of inheritance rights to include cryptocurrencies. This means that inherited cryptocurrencies are now protected under the new law.

Several Chinese courts have also ruled that Ethereum and Bitcoin are now properties protected by the law.

Xinhua News reported that the new civil code “states that the property rights of individuals are equally safeguarded to those of the State and collective, and online virtual assets are protected, too.”

Outside of China, a Dutch court also ruled that Bitcoin was a “transferable value” under property law in the course of a bankruptcy case that happened in 2018.

Meanwhile, other jurisdictions view cryptocurrencies as a form of money. Japan recognized digital currencies as money as of May 2016, and the state of Wyoming, US passed a bill that allowed cryptocurrencies to be recognised as money in 2019.

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