Bitcoin recognized as unique, non-replicable digital asset after Chinese court report

Bitcoin recognized as unique, non-replicable digital asset after Chinese court report

The Unique Nature of Bitcoin: Insights from Chinese Courts

Source: WR.LILI/Adobe Source: WR.LILI/Adobe

In a recent report titled “Legal Attributes and Judicial Disposal of Digital Currency,” the Shanghai Second Intermediate People’s Court shed light on the unique nature of Bitcoin and its position as a virtual asset with distinct characteristics. The court’s findings underscore the challenges faced by judicial systems in dealing with digital currencies compared to traditional assets. This article will delve into the background and intricacies of the blockchain industry, exploring why Bitcoin is recognized as a remarkable cryptocurrency.

The Shanghai court based its determination on several attributes that set Bitcoin apart from other digital assets. These attributes include its scarcity, inherent value, ease of circulation, and storage. Bitcoin’s scarcity, in particular, contributes to its uniqueness, as it cannot be replicated or multiplied like traditional fiat currencies. This non-replicability adds to its value, making it an attractive investment option for holders.

Observers have noted that these assertions from Chinese courts create a dilemma in light of the blanket ban on cryptocurrencies issued by the Chinese government in 2021. However, Chinese courts have previously argued in favor of Bitcoin as property, citing its value and various use cases. In fact, the report from the People’s Court affirms that digital assets are legally protected and considered legal property within the Chinese legal framework.

Addressing the practical aspects of dealing with virtual assets like Bitcoin, the court also provided guidance on conducting criminal and civil proceedings involving such assets. It acknowledged that in some cases, the money associated with criminal activities or civil disputes cannot be confiscated. As a result, the court suggested separate trials and prosecutions for those cases.

The Shanghai court’s decision comes at a time when the region is actively exploring crypto assets and web3 technologies. It is worth noting that while mainland China maintains an adversarial stance towards private cryptocurrencies, the Shanghai region is serving as a testbed for web3 initiatives.

Bitcoin and the Justice Dilemma

The court report explains how the unique nature of cryptocurrencies has led to different interpretations of the law by various courts, often depending on how the price of the cryptocurrency is evaluated. To illustrate this, the court highlights two cases.

In the first case, Tether worth 12 million yuan was stolen and used to generate a profit of 900,000 yuan. The court determined that the amount of the theft was equivalent to the value of the stolen goods, acknowledging the theft as a criminal act.

In the second case, a defendant was charged with stealing Bitcoin. However, the court convicted the defendant for illegally obtaining computer data rather than theft of Bitcoin. These examples shed light on the complexities faced by courts when dealing with digital assets.

The main difficulties encountered by courts in handling virtual asset cases revolve around seizure methods and the transfer process. While seizure of traditional assets and physical property is relatively straightforward, the same cannot be said for virtual assets. In some instances, virtual assets cannot be seized without the defendant voluntarily providing the decryption key, making it a bilateral process.

The developments around web3 in Shanghai suggest that the region is serving as a test environment for mainland China’s web3 plans. Web3 technologies aim to decentralize various aspects of the internet and provide greater control and autonomy to users, aligning with the principles of blockchain technology.

In conclusion, the report from the Shanghai Second Intermediate People’s Court highlights the unique attributes of Bitcoin and its position as a virtual asset. Despite the restrictions on private cryptocurrencies imposed by the Chinese government, Chinese courts recognize the legal protection and property rights associated with digital assets. The challenges faced by courts in dealing with digital currencies are rooted in their distinct nature and the difficulties in seizing and transferring these assets. As the blockchain industry continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how jurisdictions worldwide navigate the complexities and embrace the potential of this transformative technology.


[1] – Source: WR.LILI/Adobe [2] – Link to Article

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