In spite of last fall’s outright ban on all cryptocurrency trading, the People’s Republic of China shows no intent of discontinuing capitalization of blockchain development. Earlier this spring, a state-sponsored index was released to indicate the most promising public blockchains. Most recently, the city of Xiongan, designated as China’s first “smart city,” signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Ethereum incubator, ConsenSys.
In April 2017 Xi Jinping announced his plan to designate Xiong’an as a megacity that would rival the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) established by his former predecessors. The project will aim to facilitate the migration of 6.7 million people, and bring in over 2.4 trillion yuan ($348 billion) of investment, according to Morgan Stanley. Earlier in July, a seven-member delegate was sent to the European Union toobserve best practices for establishing urban planning, green architecture, and financial infrastructure.
The development of Xiong’an is a solution to Beijing’s population density, and saturated tech and financial community. The aim, according to Cheng Li from the Brookings Institute, is for Xiong’an to emerge as an innovation hub for technology and finance that will ultimately symbolize the efficacy of Xi Jinping’s economic and political initiatives. While Beijing will still remain the center of national politics, culture, international exchange, and scientific innovation, “all non-capital functions will be moved elsewhere, to regional locales like Xiong’an.”
According to Zheping Huang from South China Morning Post, the agreement between Xiong’an and ConsenSys will be the first known case where Xiong’an contracted a foreign company to kickstart Xiongan’s urban development. Tencent, Ant Financial, and Qihoo 360 will also contribute to establishing the emerging city’s socioeconomic infrastructure and urban development.
“[the ConsenSys team is] excited to help define the many ‘use cases’ that could benefit from the trust infrastructure enabled by Ethereum technology.”
ConsenSys’s first project in the People’s Republic of China leaves the blockchain developer with a lot of room to show the world how blockchain can facilitate decentralized governance. What is also interesting is how Xiong’an decided to move forward with Ethereum as a platform protocol over NEO, which is based in China. But considering how the smart city is in its early stages of economic development, there is enormous opportunity for ConsenSys to paint a new centralized world on Xiong’an’s blank canvas.