Inside China’s Plan to Power Global Blockchain Adoption

China is about to launch its national blockchain platform, part of the country’s grand strategy to lead the digital transformation of the world economy.

Led by the State Information Center, the Blockchain Service Network (BSN) is poised to launch for domestic commercial use Wednesday and globally on April 25. If it works as envisioned, companies and software developers will be able to plug into the BSN and build blockchain-based applications as easily as assembling Lego sets.

But the ultimate goal may go well beyond technical support for coders.

“As the BSN takes hold in worldwide countries, it will become the only global infrastructure network that is innovated by China, whose gateway access is controlled by China,” declares the latest white paper penned by the BSN Alliance, led by the government agency, several state-owned entities and blockchain firms.

As such, the project has geopolitical and macroeconomic implications.

“The move is very much like the ‘One Belt One Road Initiative’ in which China provides other countries with infrastructure and gains some first-mover advantage,” said James Cooper, a law professor and director of international legal studies at California Western School of Law.

The project also reminds Cooper of “Made in China 2025,” a nationwide initiative to spearhead innovation in areas such as robotics and artificial intelligence, he said. The subtext is a desire to overcome China’s image as a copycat, reverse-engineering innovations from elsewhere.

In the October announcement of the BSN’s internal testing, the Chinese government envisioned a variety of use cases. These included smart city applications, which use sensors connected to the internet to collect data and glean insights for managing public resources; in particular, the alliance mentioned energy conservation. It also listed identity registration and data storage as opportunities for BSN.

“China has the ambition to be the technology leader in the world. And I think…

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