Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have had a tumultuous relationship with China over the last few years, with crypto trading volume notoriously difficult to measure since the country banned bitcoin exchanges in 2017.
The bitcoin price has been rallying hard so far this year after a disastrous 2018, adding around 200% since January and pulling itself out of a bitter bear market that had weighed heavily on the bitcoin and cryptocurrency industry.
Now, the state-owned Bank of China, the world’s fourth-biggest bank by assets, has posted a pro-bitcoin infographic on its website, explaining the history of bitcoin and how cryptocurrencies work—shortly after bitcoin was legally recognized by a Chinese court, finding the cryptocurrency should be considered digital property.
The bitcoin and crypto community has welcomed what appears to be slowly shifting bitcoin sentiment in China, which still contributes some 60% of bitcoin’s total computing power and significant levels of trading volume, despite the country’s crypto ban, according to recent studies.
China’s bitcoin ban means that people in the country can hold cryptocurrencies but cannot legally use exchanges to swap them for traditional currencies.
“The Bank of China posted up an article about bitcoin,” Samson Mow, chief strategy officer of bitcoin and blockchain technology company Blockstream, said via Twitter, alongside a screenshot of the infographic.
“They explained how [bitcoin] works, why the price is going up, and why it’s valuable. Never thought I’d see that happen,” he added, describing it as “bullish.”
Other Chinese speaking Twitter users said they found the infographic to be generally “in favor of bitcoin.”
If China, a country of some 1.4 billion people, does decide to open its doors to bitcoin and crypto, it could be a significant step towards mainstream bitcoin adoption.
Meanwhile, China’s Hangzhou Internet Court earlier this month found bitcoin is a commodity because it carries value, it’s scarce, and it can be used as a means of transferring value—though bitcoin does “not have the legality of an official currency,” echoing similar previous rulings.
Recent reports have also suggested that China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, is working to create a state cryptocurrency, in part due to U.S. social media giant Facebook’s planned libra cryptocurrency project, which Facebook hopes will act as a global currency if regulators around the world can get behind it.
Some have argued the issuance of central bank digital currencies will only make the need for bitcoin and decentralized cryptocurrencies stronger.
Elsewhere, demand for bitcoin and digital currencies among China’s private sector is also growing, with the chief executive of Chinese phone maker Huawei, Ren Zhengfei, this month calling for the country to issue a competitor to Facebook’s libra.