A major bitcoin conference has suddenly jumped from China’s capital to Hong Kong — which has greater freedoms than Beijing — in the face of a Chinese government crackdown on cryptocurrencies.
The Blockchain Global Summit hosted by BitKan, a company specializing in bitcoin trading and services, was set for Sept. 10 in Beijing, but it was postponed just a few days before it was set to kick off. The conference was then quickly rescheduled to begin Sept. 20 in Hong Kong.
Chinese authorities, including its central bank, early this month banned the new issuance of digital tokens to raise money for a project or company. China has displayed much greater mistrust of cryptocurrencies — computer-generated assets that aren’t tied to government authority — than other countries.
BitKan responded to that ruling on “initial coin offerings” (ICOs) in explaining its decision to move the conference.
“As the summit host, the event team in BitKan carefully balanced the pros and cons of the risks of Beijing’s city security updates and the ICO supervision from the central bank. Though we have reported to the local enforcement and there will be no ICO related contents on the summit, we decided to change the time and location of the summit to lower the risks of being cancelled,” a notice on BitKan’s website said.
The company added that “most” of the people scheduled to give lectures and speeches at the event would be able to attend the new Hong Kong version.
Big names scheduled to attend include Jihan Wu, CEO of bitcoin mining giant Bitmain; Roger Ver, a prominent cryptocurrency evangelist and CEO of bitcoin.com, and technologist John McAfee.
Chinese regulators have been ramping up their crackdown on cryptocurrency businesses. Domestic financial media outlet Yicai Global reported that China plans to shutter all bitcoin exchanges by month’s end.
That report came nearly two weeks after Chinese regulators banned fund-raising through initial coin offerings. BTC China, another one of the biggest exchanges in the country, has said it will stop all trading by Sept. 30.
Beijing has steadily increased its influence in Hong Kong in recent years, but doesn’t yet control it to the extent that it rules the mainland.
— CNBC’s Fred Imbert contributed to this report.