Chinese court op-ed argues crypto is property: South China Morning Post

The court argued crypto’s status as property derives from its utility and exchange value, akin to digital assets circulating abroad


Christian Wittmann / Shutterstock, modified by Blockworks


A local court in Xiamen, southeastern China, has opined that crypto is to be considered property under the nation’s legal framework, despite Beijing’s ongoing crackdown against digital assets.

Reportedly published in the People’s Court Daily newspaper, the court said crypto possesses “economic attributes,” including utility and exchange value, per the South China Morning Post on Sunday.

That value objectively exists as crypto is legally circulated in overseas markets, the court reportedly said. People should keep their rights to own crypto unless it’s used for illegal activities or gained unlawfully, the court said.

Its view adds to the growing complexities following China’s stance on the asset class, which has seen sweeping, often contradictory regulatory actions within the country in recent years. 

In September 2021, China’s leading government agencies issued a statement declaring a wide range of crypto activities as illegal financial conduct, including trading and mining. The statement stopped short of categorizing crypto ownership itself as unlawful. 

That had followed a separate but similar ban months earlier, which prohibited financial institutions and payment companies from providing crypto-related services to customers.

Despite previous bans and restrictive statements issued by Chinese government bodies, in 2018 an arbitration body ruled that bitcoin should be treated as a kind of property, as CoinDesk reported at the time. 

Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of China under its “one country, two systems,” has taken a distinctly separate route this year. 

Seen by some in the industry as playing catch-up to one coveting the industry’s leading crypto hub, Hong Kong has sought to establish clearer rules governing digital assets.

That has included its licensing program for crypto firms looking to service retail clients, which has so far attracted an influx of registrations from exchanges and digital asset operators.

Also this year, Hong Kong’s High Court deemed crypto as property, echoing sentiments from China’s local court. The landmark ruling, which marked a first for the city-state, found crypto to be on a par with other intangible assets such as stocks and shares.

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