According to from the Financial Times (FT), Binance chief Changpeng "CZ" Zhao and other senior executives have been hiding the crypto exchange's connections to China for years, mired in a somewhat shady series of dealings with the country.
Despite Binance's claims of leaving China following the 2017 ban on cryptocurrencies, the Financial Times alleges that the exchange maintained significant ties to the country, including an office which was allegedly used until late 2019 and a Chinese bank utilized for employee payments.
This report lends a certain degree of credibility to the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission's (CFTC) lawsuit filed against Binance on March 27, accusing the exchange of deliberately obscuring its executive offices' location and the entities operating the trading platform.
In response, Binance insists that it "does not operate in China nor do we have any technology, including servers or data, based in China," and that the Chinese government has no access to Binance data except through lawful law enforcement requests.
"It is unfortunate that anonymous sources are citing ancient history (in crypto terms) and dramatically mischaracterizing events. This is not an accurate picture of Binance’s operations," a spokesperson for the firm said.
The unfolding Binance controversy highlights the tension between the tacitly utopian vision of cryptocurrencies as a decentralized alternative to traditional financial systems and the current reality of powerful exchanges allegedly operating outside of the law.
These alleged links between Binance and the Chinese state further complicate the situation, revealing the intricate interplay between companies and authoritarian states, and the effect that these ties have in forming over a rapidly developing crypto landscape. The alleged concealment of Binance's ties to China can be seen as a reflection of the obfuscation and manipulation that is all too common among authoritarian entities, arguably contradicting the foundational principles of decentralization, autonomy, and freedom from coercive control that's key to the original vision of crypto.
In this instance, it is crucial for those keen to crypto's vision to address the role of the Chinese state, known for its authoritarian approach, within this context. China's heavy-handed tactics in regulating cryptocurrencies and its broader history of censorship and suppression raise concerns about the potential impact of such governance on the development and adoption of decentralized technologies. Why would Binance involved itself with such an entity? Is it purely for the sake of profit? Was Binance threatened or coerced in any way by the Chinese state? These remain as key questions on the matter as more details unfold with continuing investigations.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.