Chinese President Xi Jinping has voiced fresh support for blockchain technology, praising its ability to aid efforts to fight the spread of the coronavirus epidemic that has infected almost 81,000 Middle Kingdom citizens.
Xi’s first announced his support of blockchain technology in October last year, spurring a series of government initiatives and private business operations – and leading to a surge in bitcoin (BTC) prices.
In an article published in the Communist Party’s Study Times journal on Wednesday entitled “How to use technology innovation to support public opinion,” Xi opined that blockchain and other industry 4.0 innovations should be integrated with governance efforts.
Xi wrote that emerging technology like blockchain could help government officials in a myriad of ways, particularly in the fight against the coronavirus.
Digital technology, he stated, should be used to “gauge the state of societal affairs” and “ensure smooth communication,” as well as “assisting policy implementation.”
In some regions, real-time data monitoring and tracking have already been implemented to “ensure the safety of personnel, communities, streets and urban districts.”
Xi also suggests that real-time data sharing and monitoring were crucial in helping the government dispel “inappropriate and fake information.”
“Information technology proves to be effective in changing and reshaping crowds’ knowledge, thoughts and lifestyles – and even wider societal development.”
Critics state that blockchain and other industry 4.0 advances could be used by the Chinese government as tools that allow the state to boost its surveillance and censorship capabilities.
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China has ramped up its controversial Orwellian-style surveillance and online censorship practices in the wake of the outbreak.
Dissent and anger, however, have been brewing among some web users in the country, with defiant netizens keen to spread uncensored messages – and using a number of creative ways to avoid censorship efforts.
Buzzfeed reports that messages from whistleblowing medics have even been translated into Klingon, a fictional language used in the sci-fi TV series Star Trek, in a bid to avoid censorship on chat app platforms like WeChat.