China Wants to Control the Cloud

CommentaryThe Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is no fan of cryptocurrency, especially Bitcoin. Not surprisingly, the elites in Beijing aren’t keen on NFTs either. It makes sense. Both are highly speculative assets. However, when it comes to blockchain, the underlying technology powering Bitcoin and NFTs, the CCP appears to be very interested. In this piece, you’ll see why. In 2019, Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke glowingly about blockchain. He called on business people and tech-wizards across the country to “seize the opportunity” presented by the revolutionary technology. The emergence of blockchain, according to Xi, signaled an “important breakthrough in independent innovation of core technologies.” He emphasized that further development of blockchain, very much a core technology, needed to be accelerated. In a previous piece, I outlined how blockchain works in rather extensive detail. Although there are four types of blockchain structures, we need only concern ourselves with two of them: public blockchains and private ones. The former is permissionless in nature. Completely decentralized, it allows anyone to join. The latter, meanwhile, is managed by approved network administrators. Participants must get approval before joining the network. It should come as little surprise to learn that the CCP is very much in favor of private blockchains. The question, though, is why? Why is the CCP so invested in blockchain technology? It’s simple—data. Who Controls the Data Controls the Future Two years ago, the CCP launched the Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), a “common infrastructure for the deployment and operation of blockchain applications globally,” according to its website. Yes, globally. Key members of the BSN include China Mobile, China UnionPay, and Red Date Technology, the “technical architect behind the BSN.” The CEO of Red Date Technology, Yifan He, told CNBC that blockchain technology has the potential to “change the entire internet and almost all the entire IT system architecture. Another blockchain guru, Paul Triolo, added to He’s point. “Blockchain technology,” said Triolo, “is very important for China, as government officials see it as a low barrier to the entry technology sector, and want Chinese companies to push the envelope on using blockchain applications to solve real-world problems.” An artist rendering of blockchain technology. SALT Lending wants to create the first lending market based on the technology. (Shutterstock) As the United States and the European Union use blockchain technology to track carbon emissions, China plans to use it for very different reasons. The CCP wants to control as much data as possible, not just in China but also internationally. If current developments are anything to go by, the CCP plans to use the BSN to achieve this rather worrying goal. As the CNBC piece noted, the BSN is focused on working with large, international companies, “in particular, those operating cloud computing infrastructure.” Think of companies like Amazon and Microsoft, two large cloud operatives, for example. Some readers may find themselves asking what the cloud is and its exact purpose. In the virtual world, the cloud is everything. Microsoft defines cloud computing as “the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the internet (‘the cloud’) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.” Now, China wants to use the BSN to control these services. According to the aforementioned He, a decade from now, “all clouds will have a standard blockchain environment to handle all blockchain-related applications.” The BSN aims to be a “one-stop shop” for all blockchain-related activities in the cloud. Anyone familiar with cloud computing knows that, in theory, you own the data you create and upload. However, cloud service providers are really the ones in control—in complete control—of your data. Some 90 percent of enterprises around the world now use cloud-based systems. Many of these companies, like Amazon and Microsoft, have lots of data on you, the customer. Every single day, 2.5 exabytes of data are generated. To put this rather enigmatic figure in perspective, Google, the go-to search engine, stores somewhere in the region of 10 exabytes. Is it any surprise that the BSN (simply an extension of the CCP) wants a slice of the data-dense pie? In short, no. Not in the slightest. China is essentially a digital panopticon, a country built on data collection and never-ending surveillance. To conclude, it’s important to stress that blockchain technology and the cloud can be used as forces for good. However, just like a bread knife in the wrong hands can become a deadly weapon, supreme technology in the wrong hands can be weaponized. Inordinate amounts of sensitive data in Beijing’s hands is downright scary. With the BSN, the CCP wants to control the storage of data—my dat

China Wants to Control the Cloud

Commentary

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is no fan of cryptocurrency, especially Bitcoin. Not surprisingly, the elites in Beijing aren’t keen on NFTs either. It makes sense. Both are highly speculative assets. However, when it comes to blockchain, the underlying technology powering Bitcoin and NFTs, the CCP appears to be very interested. In this piece, you’ll see why.

In 2019, Chinese leader Xi Jinping spoke glowingly about blockchain. He called on business people and tech-wizards across the country to “seize the opportunity” presented by the revolutionary technology. The emergence of blockchain, according to Xi, signaled an “important breakthrough in independent innovation of core technologies.”

He emphasized that further development of blockchain, very much a core technology, needed to be accelerated.

In a previous piece, I outlined how blockchain works in rather extensive detail. Although there are four types of blockchain structures, we need only concern ourselves with two of them: public blockchains and private ones. The former is permissionless in nature. Completely decentralized, it allows anyone to join. The latter, meanwhile, is managed by approved network administrators. Participants must get approval before joining the network.

It should come as little surprise to learn that the CCP is very much in favor of private blockchains. The question, though, is why?

Why is the CCP so invested in blockchain technology?

It’s simple—data.

Who Controls the Data Controls the Future

Two years ago, the CCP launched the Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), a “common infrastructure for the deployment and operation of blockchain applications globally,” according to its website. Yes, globally.

Key members of the BSN include China Mobile, China UnionPay, and Red Date Technology, the “technical architect behind the BSN.”

The CEO of Red Date Technology, Yifan He, told CNBC that blockchain technology has the potential to “change the entire internet and almost all the entire IT system architecture.

Another blockchain guru, Paul Triolo, added to He’s point. “Blockchain technology,” said Triolo, “is very important for China, as government officials see it as a low barrier to the entry technology sector, and want Chinese companies to push the envelope on using blockchain applications to solve real-world problems.”

Epoch Times Photo
An artist rendering of blockchain technology. SALT Lending wants to create the first lending market based on the technology. (Shutterstock)

As the United States and the European Union use blockchain technology to track carbon emissions, China plans to use it for very different reasons. The CCP wants to control as much data as possible, not just in China but also internationally. If current developments are anything to go by, the CCP plans to use the BSN to achieve this rather worrying goal.

As the CNBC piece noted, the BSN is focused on working with large, international companies, “in particular, those operating cloud computing infrastructure.” Think of companies like Amazon and Microsoft, two large cloud operatives, for example.

Some readers may find themselves asking what the cloud is and its exact purpose.

In the virtual world, the cloud is everything. Microsoft defines cloud computing as “the delivery of computing services—including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, analytics, and intelligence—over the internet (‘the cloud’) to offer faster innovation, flexible resources, and economies of scale.”

Now, China wants to use the BSN to control these services.

According to the aforementioned He, a decade from now, “all clouds will have a standard blockchain environment to handle all blockchain-related applications.” The BSN aims to be a “one-stop shop” for all blockchain-related activities in the cloud.

Anyone familiar with cloud computing knows that, in theory, you own the data you create and upload. However, cloud service providers are really the ones in control—in complete control—of your data.

Some 90 percent of enterprises around the world now use cloud-based systems. Many of these companies, like Amazon and Microsoft, have lots of data on you, the customer. Every single day, 2.5 exabytes of data are generated. To put this rather enigmatic figure in perspective, Google, the go-to search engine, stores somewhere in the region of 10 exabytes.

Is it any surprise that the BSN (simply an extension of the CCP) wants a slice of the data-dense pie? In short, no. Not in the slightest. China is essentially a digital panopticon, a country built on data collection and never-ending surveillance.

To conclude, it’s important to stress that blockchain technology and the cloud can be used as forces for good. However, just like a bread knife in the wrong hands can become a deadly weapon, supreme technology in the wrong hands can be weaponized.

Inordinate amounts of sensitive data in Beijing’s hands is downright scary. With the BSN, the CCP wants to control the storage of data—my data, your data, everyone’s data. Will this dream become a reality? Don’t bet against it. The Chinese regime has been plotting and planning for years.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.


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John Mac Ghlionn is a researcher and essayist. His work has been published by the New York Post, The Sydney Morning Herald, Newsweek, National Review, and The Spectator US, among others. He covers psychology and social relations, and has a keen interest in social dysfunction and media manipulation.