Bitcoin should be viewed as a “Chinese financial weapon” that poses a geopolitical threat to the US, PayPal founder and billionaire investor Peter Thiel has suggested.
Thiel said the world’s most popular cryptocurrency should be considered a risk that requires the US to ask “tougher questions” about how China is investing in the digital asset.
He added that plans to develop a central bank digital currency in China would not create “a real cryptocurrency — that’s just some sort of a totalitarian measuring device”.
“I do wonder whether at this point bitcoin should also be thought in part of as a Chinese financial weapon against the US where it threatens fiat money but it especially threatens the US dollar and China wants to do things to weaken it,” Thiel said, in remarks made at a panel held by the Richard Nixon Foundation with Donald Trump’s former secretary of state Mike Pompeo.
“China is long bitcoin, and perhaps from a geopolitical perspective, the US should be asking some tougher questions about exactly how that works.”
Thiel’s comments jar with his previous outspoken support for the advent of cryptocurrencies, but chime with long-held views on Chinese-US relations. The billionaire previously accused Google of having “treasonous” business with the Chinese military, and alleged the tech firm had been “thoroughly infiltrated” by Beijing intelligence officials, according to the Observer.
Bitcoin has been rising in popularity globally since late last year, as institutional investors began to pile into the asset. Tesla, Square and MicroFocus are among the companies to have all voiced support for the token, collectively buying billions of dollars worth of bitcoin for their portfolios.
Banks and asset managers are also weighing in, with Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley set to offer access to the digital asset for their clients.
Thiel, who is also co-founder of controversial data startup Palantir, continued to encourage US officials to investigate tech companies’ business in China, describing Apple’s supply chain in the region as “a real problem”.
A separate study published in April by Chinese, US and British academics suggested China’s excessive bitcoin mining activities could weaken its carbon emission reduction targets, as the process is so energy intensive.
China has plans to be carbon neutral by 2060, however bitcoin’s carbon footprint is as large as a major Chinese city. China accounts for more than 75% of the world’s bitcoin mining activity, the BBC reported.
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