Bitcoin, like other virtual currencies, is fundamentally not a currency, the head of the Chinese central bank's financial survey and statistics department, Sheng Song Cheng, wrote in an opinion piece published online on 2nd January.
Sheng's piece added that it would be difficult to see how bitcoin could ever be considered a currency in the future.
Although Sheng's view underlines the central bank's official position laid out last month, which states that bitcoin is not a currency "with real meaning", the statistics head took the additional step of labelling the cryptocurrency a "utopia" for those with beliefs in technology and liberalism verging on the extreme.
The English-language edition of the Global Times, a newspaper published by the conservative People's Daily, reported Sheng's phrasing in a news piece as:
Sheng's department is responsible for developing the statistics system for China's financial sector and designing the accounting system related to monetary statistics, among other duties.
Commenters appeared to disagree with Sheng's views. The top comment on Sheng's piece, which was published in the opinion pages of leading news portal Sina, sarcastically asked:
China's central bank banned financial institutions from dealing in bitcoin after declaring on 5th December that the digital currency didn't have the legal status of a "currency with real meaning". However, individuals remain free to deal in bitcoin.
The People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, has been closely watched for signals of its attitude towards regulating bitcoin and other digital currencies.
The PBOC's statement in December sent bitcoin's price into a nosedive, shedding $300 in a single morning on Mt. Gox. The CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index lost $555 over two days.
On 16th December, news leaked that the PBOC had taken the additional step of barring third-party payment companies from working with bitcoin exchanges. Bitcoin's value fell by 22% at its lowest point within 24 hours of the announcement, according to the BPI.
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