Shanghai Court Acknowledges Bitcoin as Digital Currency Despite China's Crypto Ban


A recent announcement by the Shanghai People's Court in China has acknowledged Bitcoin as a unique digital currency, highlighting its distinct characteristics despite the country's official ban on cryptocurrencies. The recognition of Bitcoin as a digital currency by the Shanghai court, as well as a previous similar decision in May 2022, suggests a growing acknowledgment of Bitcoin's legitimacy in certain legal contexts within the constraints of China's regulatory framework.

Bitcoin Recognized as Distinctive Digital Currency

In its announcement, the Shanghai No. 2 Intermediate People's Court affirmed certain attributes of Bitcoin that set it apart from virtual counterparts like Q coins. These attributes include Bitcoin's rarity, global acceptance, and inherent monetary qualities. This recognition contrasts with China's traditional classification of cryptocurrencies as speculative investments. While regulatory bodies in China have imposed bans on cryptocurrency trading and mining, the court's acknowledgment of Bitcoin's unique characteristics makes it challenging to ignore in legal matters.

Bitcoin as Personal Property

The Shanghai court's article suggests that when disputes arise concerning theft or ownership of Bitcoin, it can be considered personal property. This recognition implies that Bitcoin can be acquired through various means, such as purchase, mining, or inheritance, and can be subject to legal protections within the existing regulatory framework.

No Official Policy Shift, but Legal Implications

It's important to note that this recent article does not represent an official policy shift in China regarding cryptocurrency. The ban on cryptocurrency trading and related activities remains firmly in place. However, the acknowledgment of Bitcoin as a digital currency and personal property strengthens the legal positions related to ownership within the boundaries of China's current regulatory framework.


The Shanghai People's Court's recognition of Bitcoin as a distinctive digital currency reflects a nuanced approach within China's legal system. While the country maintains strict regulations against cryptocurrency trading and mining, there is a growing acknowledgment of Bitcoin's unique attributes in legal contexts. This recognition could provide some legal protection for cryptocurrency holders in China when it comes to issues of ownership and theft, despite the broader ban on crypto-related activities.

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