Maverick Central Banker Reveals How He Urged China to Adopt Bitcoin in 2011

Published: Oct 26, 2023
Written By:
Vignesh Karunanidhi
Milk Road Writer

In an exclusive interview with Chinese journalist Colin Wu, Hong Shuning, the author of China’s first Bitcoin research paper and a former central bank researcher, revealed his vision of Bitcoin as legal tender back in 2011. 

Hong sees Bitcoin evolving beyond just a currency into a diverse Web 3.0 ecosystem. Despite missing out on huge returns, he remains steadfast in his long-term conviction.

Hong’s early work in digital assets at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) shaped his visionary 2011 proposals urging China to embrace Bitcoin more broadly:

  • Use national computing power to mine Bitcoin
  • Establish a BTC bank for financial services
  • Adopt a Bitcoin-backed legal tender to compete with the US dollar.

Although dismissed at the time, Hong takes pride in the recent adoption by countries like El Salvador. He believes more will follow suit in recognizing BTC’s importance.

After leaving the PBOC in 2017, Hong dove into blockchain research at Suning Finance. He led the development of Suning’s blockchain lab, focusing on consortium chains and real-world applications.

However, Hong came to view private blockchains as too limited. He believes blockchain should return to Bitcoin’s model of incentives and game theory. As a result, his work shifted back to Bitcoin over the last two years, exploring its expanded applications beyond just a currency.

Hong shares his Ethereum ICO experience

Hong also shared his experience with Ethereum’s ICO. He studied Ethereum closely but chose not to invest. His view was that Bitcoin could eventually replicate Ethereum’s vision, even if the path was unclear.

While this cost him a 1000x missed opportunity, Hong maintains this long-term conviction was correct, just premature. He now focuses his research on enabling Bitcoin to achieve Ethereum-like smart contract functionality.

On investing, Hong admits trading isn’t his forte. As a steadfast BTC buyer and holder, he suggests long-term holding over trading if one lacks trading acumen.

Hong remains dedicated to reimagining BTC’s capabilities. He highlights how conservatism after the 2017 fork slowed application innovation on Bitcoin. Yet new technical advances like client-side validation now offer promise.

Now nearing the end of his central banking career, Hong retains the maverick spirit that drove his pioneering digital currency proposals in 2011. Despite missed opportunities, he continues championing blockchain advancement with an eye to Bitcoin’s future possibilities.

Vignesh Karunanidhi
Milk Road Writer
Vignesh has been a seasoned professional in the crypto space since 2017. He has been writing for over 5 years and specializes in writing and editing various types of crypto content, including news articles, long-form pieces, and blog posts, all focused on sharing the beauty of blockchain and crypto.