China’s recent proclamation, issued on 10 November, heralds a transformative shift in the legal landscape surrounding digital assets.
This decisive move categorises the theft of digital collections, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs), as a criminal offense.
The government’s nuanced stance underscores a fresh perspective on digital collections, now recognised as both data and virtual property.
This interpretation places these assets within the ambit of “co-offending” in criminal law, signaling a heightened emphasis on safeguarding these digital valuables.
The statement https://www.chinacourt.org/article/detail/2023/11/id/7627863.shtml clarifies that the gravity of stealing digital collections extends beyond unauthorised access, encapsulating the intrusion into the systems hosting these assets.
Consequently, such actions are now dual-classified as theft and the illegal acquisition of computer information system data.
This dual classification underscores China’s unwavering commitment to fortify the protection of digital assets.
Of particular note is the designation of digital collections as “network virtual property” within the realm of criminal law.
This classification is pivotal, especially considering the technologically intricate nature of these assets.
The statement pointed out:
“Since property is the object of property crime, digital collections can become the object of property crime.”
Furthermore, the explicit mention of NFTs in the declaration acknowledges the global derivation of this concept and underscores its unique attributes, utilising blockchain technology for asset mapping.
The inherent characteristics of NFTs, such as being non-copyable, tamper-proof, and permanently stored, render them both valuable and susceptible to theft.
The declaration also sheds light on China’s evolving stance on crypto-related activities.
Despite the 2021 ban on such activities, a burgeoning interest in NFTs is evident within the country.
Initiatives like Alibaba’s Xianyu, a peer-to-peer marketplace, the uncensoring of keywords like “nonfungible tokens” and “digital assets,” and China Daily’s plans to establish its NFT platform collectively signal a growing market for digital collections.
However, the government clarifies that, as of now, China has not opened a “secondary flow market” for these digital collections.
Consumers can still engage with trading platforms for acquiring, collecting, transferring, or disposing of these assets, ensuring exclusive possession and control.
Beyond its legal implications, China’s decision represents a pioneering leap into the future of digital asset protection.
It reflects a maturing understanding of property in the digital age and establishes a benchmark for nations grappling with similar challenges.