The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) decision to ban bitcoin should have surprised absolutely no one. Imagine if turkeys ruled the world. Would anyone be surprised if they decided to ban Thanksgiving dinner? Of course not. As a decentralized, digital asset, Bitcoin posed a direct threat to Beijing’s own digital currency, the e-CNY.
In reality, Bitcoin is much more than a digital asset. It’s a movement, a challenge to the status quo, a digital, decentralized protest. Anyone familiar with Chinese history knows how the CCP replies to protests. Rapidly and violently.
In a recent interview with Epoch TV, Kyle Bass outlined the dangers of the CCP’s new currency. Imagine a currency that knows everything about you, the founder of Hayman Capital Management warned, including “your birthday, your Social Security number, where you live” and your buying behaviors. Now imagine all of this information in the hands of the CCP. In many ways, for citizens of China, it already is. However, with the e-CNY, the likes of WeChat Pay and Alipay—which the regime closely monitors—will find themselves quickly replaced by a digital, state-run currency. With the e-CNY, the Chinese regime has set its sights on becoming a dominant, international force. Can the CCP’s digital currency replace the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency? Don’t bet against it.
In the words of Bass, the CCP excels “at exploiting every crack, every nook, every cranny.” The CCP looks for weaknesses, then exploits them, ruthlessly.
Toward Digital Authoritarianism
Countries around the world appear to be intrigued by the CCP’s new currency. Why wouldn’t they? What government doesn’t want greater control over its people? What government doesn’t want to be able to scrutinize every single transaction made by every single citizen? What government doesn’t salivate at the idea of a centralized currency that can be monitored and programmed by them, the arbiters of economic reality?
Most governments would love nothing more than to have their own version of the e-CNY, and very soon they may have it. On July 9, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank released a rather worrying paper. In it, the two influential organizations outlined the many cross-border benefits of adopting central bank-issued digital currencies (CBDC). The authors argued that international adoption of CBDCs would result in unforeseen levels of global development.
When it comes to the rollout of CBDCs around the world, it’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. Besides China, the likes of Sweden and the Bahamas are already testing their own digital currencies.
Now, with authoritarianism on the rise worldwide, and privacy a thing of the past, there are plenty of reasons to fear CBDCs. As CoinDesk’s Wolf von Laer wrote last year, “Government tends to collect as much data about its citizens as they can get away with. This happens under the guise of safety, as in the governor of the state of Michigan’s decree to document every customer’s personal information to contain the spread of COVID-19 or under the pretext of nudging people to become model citizens in the case of China.”
As von Laer goes on to discuss, it’s not beyond the realm of belief that countries will couple CBDCs with a Beijing-inspired social credit system. “All your purchasing decisions could influence your score on which you depend for everything. Donate to the ‘wrong’ non-profit like WikiLeaks? Whoops, you cannot purchase train tickets anymore,” he writes.
With this sort of system already in place in China, other countries could adopt similar measures. Again, what country doesn’t want greater control over its citizens?
As our lives become increasingly intertwined with technology, the line between the virtual world and the physical world becomes blurrier. With Big Data casting an ominous shadow over the world and the increase of surveillance states, there’s a high chance that more countries will adopt the CCP’s style of government. The CCP recently introduced a “One Person, One File,” system, in which Big Data—everything from internet chat history to biometric information—is used to build files on each citizen. The CBDCs of the future, one imagines, will be intimately linked with digital IDs and biometric data. This will give governments even greater control over our lives.
In the words of the aforementioned von Laer, “Pair this level of surveillance with the ability to track any purchasing decision you make and you have the perfect recipe for Big Brother on crypto-steroids.” With one surveillance camera for every seven citizens of planet Earth, Big Brother is already watching. Very soon he will control your money.
John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the likes of the New York Post, Sydney Morning Herald, The American Conservative, National Review, The Public Discourse, and other respectable outlets. He is also a columnist at Cointelegraph.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.