Chinese Supreme Court Calls for Stronger Property Rights over Digital Currencies and Virtual Assets

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The Chinese Supreme Court has flagged heightened protections for property rights in relation to digital currency in the lead up to the release of China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC), or digital currency/ electronic payments system (DC/EP).

On 22 July the Chi­nese Supreme Peo­ple’s Court and the Na­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion (NDRC) jointly is­sued the “Opin­ions Con­cern­ing Pro­vid­ing Ju­di­cial Ser­vices and Pro­tec­tions to the Ac­cel­er­ated Im­prove­ments of a So­cial­ist Mar­ket Econ­omy Sys­tem in a New Era” (关于为新时代加快完善社会主义市场经济体制提供司法服务和保障的意见). 

Article Six of the Opinions calls for “strengthening protections of new rights and interests in digital currency, Internet virtual assets and data, and fully employing the value guidance role of judicial decisions in the protection of property rights.”

Article 23 of the Opinions also calls for “strengthening data rights and personal information security, lawfully protecting data collection, usage, transactions and the intellectual products that are subsequently produced; and improving the data protection legal system.”

The move comes as the Chinese central bank conducts trials of its CBDC in cities around China, including Shenzhen, Suzhou, Xiong’an New District and parts of the Beijing Winter Olympics sites, with analysts predicting an initial launch by as early as the end of 2020.

Analysts point out that the Chinese central government still has further work to do in order to provide a legal basis for the issuance of CBDC by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).

At present Article 2 of the “Renminbi Administrative Regulations” (人民币管理条例) only covers issuance of paper and physical currency by PBOC, with no provisions for intangible forms of digital currency.

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