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“Chairman Mao” Blockchain Endorsement Causes Consternation

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Is China about to let a hundred blockchain projects bloom? That appears to be one of the aims of the Boao Block Chain Forum for Asia, a two-day event that kicked off on the island of Hainan today. But unfortunately for the organizers, the use of an actor portraying Mao Zedong to open proceedings hasn’t gone down particularly well.

Images of a “Great Helmsman” lookalike stood on stage at the forum have gone viral on Weibo and WeChat. Attendees report that the actor delivered a few words, stating: “I sincerely wish this conference great success […] and I want to thank you in the name of Mao Zedong.”

Ooph. While the old adage may hold that “all publicity is good publicity”, in China that’s not always the case and authorities seem likely to take a dim view of this stunt.

Yet while there were inevitable comments complaining of a “lack of respect” for Mao’s legacy, much of the criticism aimed at the conference concerns its apparent attempts to ape the Boao Forum for Asia, a “nongovernmental and nonprofit international organization” with an annual event held in the same city and which this year counted President Xi Jinping among its speakers. The blockchain forum’s name and imagery strongly echo those of the more high-profile meeting.

The antics are being seen as so shameless that media outlets, blockchain funds, and others in the field have scrambled to emphasize that they are not involved with the forum. Official accounts on Weibo have been issuing statements and posting comments clarifying their organizations’ non-attendance and aiming to distance themselves from the event.

Sensing the mounting backlash, the people behind this week’s meeting issued a swift apology Monday lunchtime: “We are sorry for the negative impact our event has had on the public. We will continue to execute the conference to high standards.”

For some more constructive background on blockchain in China, see below:

Where Now For China’s Blockchain Market?

China’s Local Governments are Getting into Blockchain

RADII China
China from all angles.

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