China, Australia Set Up Blockchain Ties

China has welcomed several Australian blockchain-based companies as potential business partners.

A number of Australian start-ups active in the blockchain sector have visited Shanghai seeking to explore business opportunities in the Asian country, news outlet The Australian Financial Review wrote on Monday, without revealing its sources.

Labrys, Beam, and AgriDigital, among other Australian blockchain firms, are getting acquainted with China’s fintech ecosphere as part of a trade mission this week organized by the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) and the Australian Digital Commerce Association. The entrepreneurs have already visited some of the largest Chinese tech enterprises, including Ant Financial, an affiliate of e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Ant Financial, itself a giant valued at an estimated $150 billion, reportedly decided earlier this year to put a stronger focus on the development of technology solutions rather than on its payments and consumer finance operations. In line with this new strategy and only a couple of days later, Jack Ma’s company secured a colossal $14 billion funding for its tech ventures, covering also blockchain projects.

Which other Chinese enterprises are on the Australian trade delegation’s visiting list remains unclear, but the publication noted that the start-ups will attend the Wangxiang 4th Global Blockchain Summit held in Shanghai this week.

While a blanket ban prohibits cryptocurrency exchanges and token crowdfunding activities in China, the Asian country is not looking away from the technology that digital currencies are based on. Rather, China has taken various steps to implement blockchain in different sectors.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said last month it is committed to promoting blockchain applications in, for instance, finance, supply chain management, reporting and smart manufacturing, as quoted by state-run news agency Xinhua. Furthermore, an unprecedented ruling by the Chinese Supreme Court allowed last Friday the use of blockchain technology to authenticate evidence in legal contexts.

It is in consonance with its affinity for blockchain that China is looking to establish connections with Australia in the sphere. Chairing the International Standards Organisation (ISO) group that sets blockchain standards, known as Technical Committee 307, Australia does play a key role in a sector China wants to expand in. At the same time, Australia needs to have China involved in the development of international standards “given the significance of their work in blockchain,” Technical Committee 307 chairman Craig Dunn told The Australian Financial Review ahead of his keynote speech at the Wangxiang Global Blockchain Summit.