Since the end of World War II, the United States has been the indubitable leaders in technology and innovation. The U.S has been the global leaders in embracing new technologies since putting a man on the moon to the recent birth of the Silicon Valley. This position has given the country a deliberate advantage in controlling how emerging technology is ratified and setting up standards. Nevertheless, as we set foot into the new decade, the United States is risking losing its place as global technology leaders to another economic superpower in China.
Since the inception of Blockchain technology, it has been viewed through the digital currencies lens. In particular, the publicity surrounding the trading of Bitcoins and other coins has made blockchain to be perhaps the most talked about topic. In fact, a recent survey has indicated that most people are aware of what Bitcoin is but they do not understand the technology that powers it. This makes blockchain technology to be perhaps the most misunderstood emerging technology.
The Rise of the Great Wall
The last several years have seen China rise to become a daunting challenger to the United State in a number of technological areas. In particular, blockchain and artificial intelligence. The Chinese President during a speech back in May 2018 at the Chinese Academy of Sciences highlighted that; “ever since the start of the 21st century, a new generation of the industrial revolution is substantially reshaping the global economic structure,” regarding artificial intelligence, the Internet of things and blockchain.
Today, over 500 projects have been registered with China’s Cyberspace Administration since it became mandatory. Moreover, the number of Blockchain-related patents registered in China have almost trebled the next closest country; in particular, the United States. According to a report by American market intelligence company, IDC; China is planning to spend in excess of $2 billion on blockchain technology by 2023. The local Chinese governments have even pledged endowments to blockchain-related projects. That is how serious China is on Blockchain.
Moreover, the government of China made blockchain a national priority back in 2016 in its 13th Five Year Plan. President Xi Jinping went on to highlight the significance of this technology to the future of China during a speech last year. He said:
“We must take blockchain as an important breakthrough for independent innovation of core technologies, clarify the main directions, increase investment, focus on a number of key technologies, and accelerate the development of blockchain and industrial innovation.”
Interestingly, firms with roots in China took up 57 positions in a recently compiled list on the “Top-100 Blockchain Enterprise Patent Rankings” by IPRDaily, a global intellectual property media outlet. China is known to be big when it comes to government superintendence. Its stance on the blockchain is no different. A state official went on to unfold that:
“When talking about blockchain, many people are talking about ‘decentralization.’ I’d like to make a small change to the word. I think the essence of blockchain is ‘de-intermediarization.’ There is no way to get rid of the center.”
However, the standards being set by China on matters blockchain are against the technology’s fundamental philosophy of decentralization. This brings an uncomfortable notion as Josh Rogin of Washington Post puts it: “While Westerners envision blockchain-based Web 3.0 as an open system, China could build a closed blockchain that it controls and corrupts for its own purposes.”
China is not the only one
As China walks tall in the digital ledger space, other Asian countries are also working hard to outdo the United States on the blockchain. Korea is an embryonic global leader in blockchain adoption. The Asian country is instigating blockchain adoption in several sectors of large business, startups and the government. The Ministry of Science and Technology in South Korea has started schemes to train developers. In addition, the Seoul Metropolitan Government is aiming to invest more than $1 billion on blockchain and fintech startups by the year 2022.
Furthermore, a great deal of blockchain development for businesses and enterprises is taking place in India. The country is a global leader in systems integration engineering and software innovation. For this matter, India is home to some of the best blockchain developers in the world.
The escalation of blockchain technology, on top of the endorsement and fortification of the Chinese government, is ushering in an unrivalled age of healthcare, fintech, logistics, supply chain management and e-commerce advancement. Recently, China was fairly accused of duplicating the best technologies in the world. Nevertheless, regarding the blockchain technology, it is looking more and more like the other countries are playing catch up with China.