The Chinese government has taken a major stance on the legal status of digital collections like non-fungible tokens (NFTs) within China.
In an announcement on November 10, the Chinese authorities outlined three perspectives on categorizing the theft of digital collections. They first consider it either data theft or stealing digital property. However, the third perspective, recognizing digital collections as both data and virtual property, classifies them as “co-offending” that violates laws protecting computer data and property rights.
According to the statement:
“The theft of digital collections violates the protection law and interests of the crime of illegally obtaining computer information system data.”
Essentially, the statement emphasizes that stealing a digital collection involves illegally accessing the system hosting it and stealing virtual property.
By labeling digital collections as “network virtual property,” the Chinese government is officially acknowledging them as property in a criminal context, indicating that they can be the subject of property crimes.
Despite China’s ban on most crypto activities in 2021, this announcement shows a more nuanced approach to digital assets like NFTs.
Moreover, there are signs of growing interest in NFTs within China, including e-commerce platform Alibaba’s Xianyu lifting NFT search restrictions on October 25.
Additionally, on October 6, the state-run China Daily revealed plans to establish its own NFT platform, allocating $390,000 for its design and implementation.