China's Supreme Court Calls for Better Protection of Digital Currency Rights

A new guideline comes amid rising numbers of legal disputes in China over the ownership of digital currencies like bitcoin.

AccessTimeIconJul 22, 2020 at 8:20 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 9:34 a.m. UTC

The Supreme People's Court of China has said the country's legal system should strengthen protections around digital currency ownership rights.

  • Published Wednesday, a new guideline from the court, under the section "Strengthening judicial protection for property and equity rights," specifies that the legal system should enhance protections over new types of ownership rights such as digital currencies, online virtual assets and data.
  • While the court did not elaborate on details or provide a definition of "digital currencies," the guideline comes at a time when there are rising numbers of legal disputes in China over the ownership of digital assets, including major cryptocurrencies including bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH).
  • Previously, there have been legal decisions made by provincial and municipal courts in China in which digital currencies like bitcoin were treated as virtual properties.
  • Until now, the country's top judicial body has apparently not addressed the issue, however.
  • The guideline was published by the Supreme People's Court, together with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).
  • The NDRC is China's top economic planning agency and is one of the 26 cabinet-level ministries that make up the central government, namely, the State Council.
  • The opinion was issued in response to earlier guidelines put out by the State Council in May calling for an acceleration of improvements to China's socialist market economy.
  • The court's guidance represents the legal system's highest-level opinion regarding judicial services and protections.


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