Legal Recognition of Virtual Assets as Property Sparks Debate in China

Legal Recognition of Virtual Assets as Property Sparks Debate in China

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A report in China has underscored the economic significance of virtual assets and advocated for their recognition as a form of property, despite the country’s ban on foreign digital assets. This recognition raises legal questions and highlights the evolving stance of Chinese courts on virtual assets.


In a noteworthy development, a report titled “Identification of the Property Attributes of Virtual Currency and Disposal of Property Involved in the Case” has ignited discussions in China’s legal and financial circles. The report contends that virtual assets possess economic value and should be considered a form of property.

A Legal Perspective

While China has imposed a ban on foreign digital assets, this report challenges the status quo by asserting that virtual assets controlled by individuals deserve legal recognition and protection under the current policy framework.

The Role of People’s Courts

China’s People’s Courts are entrusted with handling a wide range of cases, including criminal, civil, administrative, and those with economic implications. This multifaceted approach to jurisprudence becomes particularly relevant when it comes to virtual assets.

Complex Legal Territory

The report also delves into the intricate legal landscape surrounding virtual assets. It argues that in cases involving virtual assets, money, and property, seizure should not be automatic but contingent on the interplay between criminal and civil law.

Evolving Court Opinions

Chinese courts have grappled with Bitcoin and other virtual assets over the years, often presenting varying perspectives. This divergence in legal interpretation reflects the complexity of regulating digital currencies in a rapidly evolving financial landscape.

A Recent Example

One noteworthy example of this legal ambiguity surfaced in September 2022 when an advocate asserted that cryptocurrency in China should be protected by law in cases of theft, robbery, or breaches of loan agreements, despite the overarching ban on cryptocurrencies in the country.

The report’s assertion that virtual assets hold economic value and should be treated as property adds a layer of complexity to the ongoing discourse surrounding digital currencies in China. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, these discussions underscore the need for a nuanced approach to address the intersection of virtual assets, law, and economic policies in the country.