China’s Communist Party is apparently cautioning its people to not confuse the blockchain with bitcoin.
“Bitcoin is only an application of blockchain, and it is not equal to blockchain, so do not misunderstand it,” People’s Daily said according to a translation.
Yet China’s Communist Party has launched an official course on the blockchain. According to local media as per a rough translation, the course:
“Consists of 25 episodes, including the initial introduction of the blockchain, the consensus protocol in the blockchain, introduction to bitcoin, introduction to ethereum and smart contracts, the improvement of blockchain performance, the security of the blockchain, and the blockchain and basic knowledge of big data, etc., as well as an in-depth analysis of blockchain instances and specific programming code examples.”
Meaning to introduce the blockchain, they will teach about bitcoin and ethereum as well as how to code smart contracts for the latter.
Raising that obvious question, where exactly have we seen all this before?
Blockchain Not Bitcoin, the China Version
It looks like the blockchain not bitcoin meme has taken about two-three years to reach China, which is similar to how long it took bitcoin itself to reach there. Its first semi-mainstream debut in the west was in 2011. For China, it was 2013.
The debut of blockchain not bitcoin in the west arguably began in 2014, but with very very low whispers. It wasn’t until 2016 that it reached “mainstream” for executives, to then go full mainstream in 2017.
Presumably for China 2017 was 2014, the whispers stage. With it now at the point where maybe they’ve reached 2016.
As we learned from when bankers did this “blockchain not bitcoin,” it turned out to actually be all about bitcoin.
That’s for many reasons, starting with the fact that because both start with a B, you can use the bitcoin symbol for both. Meaning ₿ can stand for blockchain.
Then, to most easily explain what the blockchain is, you explain what bitcoin is. Then you say something like, but this is only one application, we can do a lot more with it.
Now however a lot of people have just learned about this decentralized network of uncontrollable money that runs by itself globally. Plenty would think it cool, so they might want some.
The second reason is that for the media, you almost can’t introduce the blockchain without mentioning bitcoin.
So where the public is concerned, they probably think: alright this blockchain stuff is cool, but I don’t have supply chains, while this bitcoin thing is concrete and I can have some, so that could be an indirect way to “invest” in the blockchain.
As it happened in 2017 bitcoin took credit even for ethereum related aspects. It’s a bit surprising actually they’re not bragging about DeFi being some sort of bitcoin open finance cool stuff.
While ethereum itself not only did not take much credit, but eth projects were “blockchain” projects without a mention of ethereum anywhere. You had to dig quite a bit to find “which blockchain,” and for many of them it was impossible under time constrains.
Still, ethereum roared and very loudly, but arguably even now it is not quite mainstream in the west. If you ask people do they know what is bitcoin, they look at you angrily like you think they’re a peasant. Ask them about eth and “what?” is the only response you’ll get.
That’s in America or UK, where bitcoin now is at the stage it can “comfortably” inject itself into conversations, although maybe still a bit awkwardly. While eth is… well bitcoin,
for the peasants as plenty do know about it.
Interestingly, however, we think bitcoin hasn’t quite gone mainstream in China in as far as some random person down the street doesn’t quite recognizes the name bitcoin.
It certainly has gone mainstream in America and in Europe, but anecdotally ordinary Chinese people give you that 2014 – or even as late as 2016 – blank look. The one you get when you say eth.
The reason for that as we say is because they’re about two years behind and probably because authorities there have tried to restrict bitcoin usage.
Now however they’re going all blockchain, not bitcoin, which means soon enough, everyone in China will know just what is bitcoin.