The Blockchain Socialist

China is a Process: Understanding the Chinese Crypto Diaspora Community

December 17, 2023 The Blockchain Socialist
China is a Process: Understanding the Chinese Crypto Diaspora Community
The Blockchain Socialist
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The Blockchain Socialist
China is a Process: Understanding the Chinese Crypto Diaspora Community
Dec 17, 2023
The Blockchain Socialist

Send me your questions or comments about the show and I'll read them out sometime.

In this episode I spoke to Afra Wang, a Chinese diaspora journalist who has been in crypto now for a year and a half with Mask Network and organizer of the ZuConnect Decentralized Social Day in Istanbul where I moderated a panel on technology addiction in crypto. Given that usually crypto is often seen through and talked about from a western lens, Afra was a great guest to help bring a Chinese diasporic point of view.

During the discussion we spoke about the tumultuous history of China's involvement with cryptocurrency, how those involved in the crypto space in China responded, and how the Chinese diasporic community build on crypto differently. We also spoke about our experience at ZuConnect and how we hope for it to evolve. It was nice to hear from Afra that our work on coordi-nations was something that she identified with from the last Zuzalu and we hope one day to debate with Balaji about it.

If you liked the podcast be sure to give it a review on your preferred podcast platform. If you find content like this important consider donating to my Patreon starting at just $3 per month. It takes quite a lot of my time and resources so any amount helps. Follow me on Twitter (@TBSocialist) or Mastodon (@theblockchainsocialist@social.coop) and join the r/CryptoLeftists subreddit and Discord to join the discussion.

Support the Show.

ICYMI I've written a book about, no surprise, blockchains through a left political framework! The title is Blockchain Radicals: How Capitalism Ruined Crypto and How to Fix It and is being published through Repeater Books, the publishing house started by Mark Fisher who’s work influenced me a lot in my thinking.

The book is officially published and you use this linktree to find where you can purchase the book based on your region / country.

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send me your questions or comments about the show and I'll read them out sometime.

In this episode I spoke to Afra Wang, a Chinese diaspora journalist who has been in crypto now for a year and a half with Mask Network and organizer of the ZuConnect Decentralized Social Day in Istanbul where I moderated a panel on technology addiction in crypto. Given that usually crypto is often seen through and talked about from a western lens, Afra was a great guest to help bring a Chinese diasporic point of view.

During the discussion we spoke about the tumultuous history of China's involvement with cryptocurrency, how those involved in the crypto space in China responded, and how the Chinese diasporic community build on crypto differently. We also spoke about our experience at ZuConnect and how we hope for it to evolve. It was nice to hear from Afra that our work on coordi-nations was something that she identified with from the last Zuzalu and we hope one day to debate with Balaji about it.

If you liked the podcast be sure to give it a review on your preferred podcast platform. If you find content like this important consider donating to my Patreon starting at just $3 per month. It takes quite a lot of my time and resources so any amount helps. Follow me on Twitter (@TBSocialist) or Mastodon (@theblockchainsocialist@social.coop) and join the r/CryptoLeftists subreddit and Discord to join the discussion.

Support the Show.

ICYMI I've written a book about, no surprise, blockchains through a left political framework! The title is Blockchain Radicals: How Capitalism Ruined Crypto and How to Fix It and is being published through Repeater Books, the publishing house started by Mark Fisher who’s work influenced me a lot in my thinking.

The book is officially published and you use this linktree to find where you can purchase the book based on your region / country.

Speaker 1:

Hello everyone. You're listening to the Blockchain Socialist podcast. I am Josh and I am here in Istanbul, turkey, where I am currently in the middle of going to different events for DevConnect. I was also at another event before this called ZooConnect, which was an offshoot or kind of spin-off of ZooZalu, which was the event in Montenegro that Primavera and I went to, where we were able to have time to kind of dig into our new conceptual framework for coordination as an alternative to network states.

Speaker 1:

But so I came to ZooConnect in order to do a panel. This panel the title was something along the lines of when to unplug, so it was meant to be a panel on when not to use technology. So it was a really fun panel. Hopefully, by the time this podcast comes out, I can find a link to that panel to share with people. So I wanted to have on Afra Wong on the podcast. She is a Chinese diaspora journalist because she was also one of the people who helped organize ZooConnect and the day that I was involved in for decentralized social was the theme. But so, yeah, maybe, before I keep rambling, afra, would you like to give a quick introduction to yourself.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, sure, really honored to be in your podcast, josh. I've been listening to some of your episodes since I joined the space last year, so it's pretty surreal to be in the same space with you recording this podcast. Yeah, a little bit introduction about myself. My name is Afra Wong.

Speaker 2:

I was an in-house journalist as well as a content product person for two mobile news app you know that's AI news recommendation to people based in Silicon Valley for about three years and then, around a year and a half ago, I joined crypto and me, as a Chinese immigrant in California I've been living in the US for more than a decade, so like just bringing this really like bilingual, bicultural background delve into crypto. I've been really like observing different groups interacting under the concept of, you know, free money Sorry, not free money like this like sort of cryptocurrency which can enhance your like sovereignty. Yeah, and I got involved in Zoo Connect as one of the theme curators or organizers, where I organized a day called Decentralized Social Day on November 7th, where I invited Josh to moderating a panel called when to Unplug Social Connection from Physical to Digital, where the you know some also really active members like Jenny and Noah, was involved to talk about you know how to sort of organize a coherent physical experience when everyone is in, especially in the crypto space? Are hyper digitized yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and that for that panel, I think, just to share with people. I think one of the things that I wanted to do was kind of help, you know crypto people who are oftentimes very, very they default often to using digital technology as the answer to everything. Yeah, we find that often, I think, there is a kind of a pretty high rate of kind of like addiction to digital platforms, tools, computers, phones, etc. That is kind of, I mean, for many reasons. Part of that is that crypto markets are 24-7.

Speaker 1:

So a lot of people are constantly looking at prices and markets. And then there's also a bit of like a crypto Twitter or like these certain platforms are important for different narratives within the crypto space, and like trying to react to certain things at a certain point, Like people are always kind of like on wanting to know what is like current latest edge of like the informational landscape. I guess you can say so. In the beginning of the panel I forced everyone to turn off their phones.

Speaker 2:

That was great. That was great. That's really memorable. That's even. I asked a lot of participants. They said that was the most memorable moment of that day. So thank you, Josh, for letting us get off the phone for 15 minutes. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So I was like we're not starting this panel until everyone turns off their phones. I just felt that, like if we were going to discuss, you know critically, when we're supposed to use technology and not when we wanted to enhance our social relationships and when is it a bad idea to use technology to enhance, to try to enhance our relationships. We need to like. People cannot be looking at their phones at the same time or else the entire message is completely lost.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, true, I find the crypto community is the most formal community that I've ever seen, like I've been living my entire life digitally. To be honest, you know, had my first personal computer very early on. My dad, you know, got one for the family. But yeah, I mean just like delving into crypto. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of information, not just you know the market, the 24 seven market, but also the trends, the cool things. Right, what are the latest memes? The latest memes will make you funnier, cooler and, you know, in a sense like more lovable by the community and, in a sense, more information.

Speaker 2:

You can learn about different communities. Right, and community means people. People means projects and projects means things can, can give you a lot of either profits or you know some upsides. Yeah, but, like that panel, when I was writing about the introduction, I remember there's a line I wrote where is you know? Previously, when we're talking about going online, it means escape from reality. But right now, when we're trying to escape from reality, we unplug from whatever is online, we put our phone down. We would go to the nature. We tell people be like I'm gonna away from keyboard for this next couple hours.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and crypto is, you know, naturally a space where a lot of conferences, a lot of interactions happen. You exchange with someone with your Instagram or Telegram handle and then you sort of like complete this transactional interaction and that's it. And I think one of the reasons why Zuzalu was initiated or established by Vitalik was because this thousand people going into a big venue exchange their Telegram and chat for 15 minutes was too tiring for many people. So he was like, oh, why not? I just put 200 highly innovative, smart crypto people into the same space. But, like you know, those 200 people are sort of from different domains and then they can cross-poll in it and also eat breakfast together and flap together. So I think that's initially what Zuzalu comes around, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

I think it's like, if you get, because the community is so globalized and most people don't live next to their crypto friends. Oftentimes, I see, because so many people are digital nomads or whatever else, they don't have the opportunity to kind of like sit down and be face to face if they're doing work or something like that, if they want to do work, they have to be on the computer. That's sort of like a default. So getting people together is one way to kind of like reduce perhaps the dependence on, you know, digital technology for communication and then, as well, I think there is.

Speaker 1:

I think that's why I think this is another reason that I'm starting to realize, maybe partially, why people became interested in, like the network state stuff and all these things. Because it tells people that we can, you know, find your clan or your group or whatever else, and then we're all online and then bring them in a physical space and just live next to each other. And everyone loves that idea of like. Oh, I would love to like live with all my best friends. You know like it's like.

Speaker 2:

And then start a bookstore.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

So, yeah, so that's why I think we touched on network state stuff in the panel as well. But, yeah, one of the things that I wanted to bring you on for, though, to talk because we talked a lot during during ZU Connect was about your kind of perspective or experience from like from the Chinese points of view, because it's oftentimes yeah, a lot of crypto is spoken about from a very Western point of view, from a very American or European point of view, so I thought it'd be good to have someone on who is able to share their own experience and thoughts on that, so maybe we can start off with like what is the like? What is it that you find perhaps that makes crypto interesting from?

Speaker 2:

a.

Speaker 1:

Chinese point of view.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, in terms of Chinese point of view, I want to maybe make this perspective a little bit more nuanced although I hate this word nuanced but yeah, there's some complexity of my, my position. I started to live in the US since 2012 and educated, worked, sort of trained, in the US, so, like, naturally, I was in the space. I was seen as sort of this culture bridge between people who are solely working in crypto in China or in Asia in general and people who are working in quote unquote the Western crypto space. A lot of people see me as a bridge, see me as a connector, and I do have been like observing how both communities thrive, involve and clash in a sense.

Speaker 2:

So China China has a long history with cryptography as well as cryptocurrency. So China in the early days of Bitcoin, there's a big Bitcoin community in China at the time, where the Chinese taxing was really prosperous as well, and a lot of Chinese investors many of them are practical are drawn into the potential for hiring terms on the cryptocurrency investment, and a lot of the really famous exchanges emerged during the time from 2013 to 2017. The big ones like OKX and Huobi were all the really known ones.

Speaker 1:

And you also have Binance as well, which is founded by Zhao Changpeng CZ, who from like many Chinese entrepreneurs perspective.

Speaker 2:

Cz, although educated in Canada, is indeed very Chinese. A Chinese person using WeChat, writing articles in China, speak absolutely full of Mandarin and he's like no difference than the person who grew up and does everything in China. So yeah, cz. Another example. Justin Sun, of course, very famous hustler and, thank God, meme generator for.

Speaker 2:

Ethereum. And then, yeah, since 2017, you see this a big crackdown in the sense that the Chinese government doesn't see itself to regulate cryptocurrency. And then in 2021, there's another wave of crackdown where Chinese government banned crypto mining in China. So I was in China at the time. It was also during COVID, so it's like a layer of surrealism. Another layer of surrealism where you see, like the mining machines in Xinjiang province, in many, many provinces in China, were being removed, the cables, the electric cables were cut down. You just see thousands of machine, abandoned crypto mining machine piled on the abandoned playground, and that photographers, when they're took photographs. And still a lot of great materials for journalism exist somewhere in the internet.

Speaker 1:

I think a lot of people have seen that video of the giants. I don't even know what the thing is called, but that just like flattens all of this huge pile of A6 machines. It was used a lot for I mean, yeah, a lot of use propagandistically for the crypto people, for Bitcoiners especially.

Speaker 2:

Exactly so.

Speaker 2:

In a sense, China incubated cryptocurrency and still, like the most of the mining machines were produced in China, Most of the mining infrastructures were established in China, and China still has a big amount of population who were in, like the earlier waves of cryptocurrency. On top of everything, I think, not just crypto space, but the entire world and people inside China. Outside of China, the fact that we're all dealing with is a China that's been drifting away from the rest of the world, a China that's closing off, a China that's no longer telling the world that, oh, we're opening up for a direct investment. Where that China is gone. The Olympic China, the Ku China is gone. The China who says I'm gonna open my door to welcome the foreign visitors to come to my living room and I'm gonna serve them teas like that China is already gone. So the whole world, no matter who you are, you're gonna deal with this, and this is the history of China with cryptocurrency. Basically, yeah, and then we can maybe talk about what? About those people who are involved in crypto in China? What?

Speaker 1:

they're gonna do. Well, just maybe to double check, like, from what I understood, at least previously, that a lot of the crackdowns happened specifically for mining. That was like the big thing, but then I don't know what is the current state right now. Are people allowed in China to hold or purchase cryptocurrency? Is that fine?

Speaker 2:

So, namely, ICO is banned in 2017, like any initial coin offering.

Speaker 1:

That's same in like other countries as well, but yeah how strictly they do. It is something else.

Speaker 2:

Right, and then that became illegal in 2017, and then in 2021, mining became illegal, and namely exchange by or trade cryptocurrency shouldn't somehow be allowed in. China as well, and then that's why some Chinese entrepreneurs who initiated their coins before all fleet, left China or they don't feel safe anymore. And I'm pretty sure there's a spreadsheet in some agency, government agency in China, like locally and nationally, there are like a list of people who should be target next and I do know, like those Because there are people who have a lot of cryptocurrency.

Speaker 2:

Because people are deemed rich, maybe from a local government official's perspective. My KPI this year is to gain this amount of money for my local government and if I do not have enough, like maybe like tax collected, my next thing will be probably go to the spreadsheet and see who should I to go after so I can complete my KPI that year. So yeah, I mean I'm pretty sure, like just knowing like how Chinese government in different levels operates. There must be a spreadsheet somewhere that has like list of crypto rich in China?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, but so then I imagine, still people. Is it that, like Huobi or these exchanges are blocked?

Speaker 2:

They are. They all you know, namely left China, so they're like now either-.

Speaker 1:

Like they're probably they're headquartered outside of China. Yeah, they headquartered outside of China, but can the mainland Chinese person living in mainland China access the website to buy Ethereum or something.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so this is like a super, super great Zoom. Like am I allowed to use Twitter or Google when I'm physically inside mainland China? No, I'm not allowed Is because it's-.

Speaker 1:

But everybody uses VPNs kind of.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, it's namely banned by the Chinese law, as well as the Great Firewall. I'm definitely not allowed to check my someone's shitpost on Twitter when I'm eating anything in Beijing right, namely, not allowed, but can I do it? Yes, sure, of course. I can just use VPN and trick the system saying I'm in Malaysia and I can check all that shitpost on Twitter. So, same way like when you want to purchase cryptocurrency in this exchange. Are you allowed? Not really, but can you do it? Yes, of course.

Speaker 1:

Right, okay, okay. I went to China in 2012 actually because my older brother lived there for a very long time and I remember him showing me, like how he checked his Facebook by using a VPN, and then do all that.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I mean, things went out really fast. I have. I remember when my dad got his Nokia 790 or Nokia 970, they're still per installed Facebook in that Nokia. That was like 2009. And then in 2012, google was banned in China, and then just things start to decline ever since. Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean I have a bit of a spicy take that like I think from a Western point of view that can look like very, it can look very authoritarian, but I think it ended up being now China does have like its own tech industry, whereas I think and it has basically it was a geopolitical move to essentially ban American and outsider like these different tech companies, because then America or potential enemies would have like full access to the information of Chinese citizens, which could be quite dangerous. But it is like a tough situation and if you are in between these two countries you have to deal with basically a splintered internet.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, for me, as someone who grew up in a fairly open age in China, this tech divergence simply cost more ideological divergence. My cousin, for example, who is maybe 10 years younger than me, certainly like is not as informed as I am Because, like, growing up I was able to read a lot of Wikipedia. I was able to read the economist when I need to study English, but my cousin and her generation is comparably more nationalistic. She would say something like you know, jiejie, I mean sister, is Japanese people all like this bad, you know, like. They're educated in a very like instiller environment to where having some autonomy to read free information became increasingly hard for them, although they have a lot of access to smartphones. So that's a very sad truth. So that's why, like my peers and I have often speak about this, this deeming reality where we could be the last quote unquote free generation in China yeah.

Speaker 1:

So you find that a lot of the kind of, do you think a lot of the Chinese diaspora community in crypto are more or less a lot of people from this generation of people, this age.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, they're from this age where China was more open and, of course, the entire nation, entire multiple generations, benefited from this openness, not only economically, but you know, education wise, ideologically, technologically as well. Right, Like a lot of people in China, like you know, for example, my company, you know the technologists in my company who wanted to do technology, who wanted to build products, that's. That's like somehow anti Facebook, anti Twitter, anti monopoly is because they certainly benefited from the decentralized technology when they grow up. So, yeah, that's definitely like an age which is somehow only lives in our memory and in yeah, it's from my understanding.

Speaker 1:

yeah, it's sort of like, especially since COVID it has increased a lot.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

And it's perhaps I mean it's, to me it's a symbol of a couple of different things. One is, of course, this narrative of like we're entering into a multipolar world where now, I guess, china has less dependence on American capital and American tech that I think now it doesn't, it can close off and so, and the US is, of course, I think, like kind of scrambling to kind of figure out how to keep its hegemony in many ways and so, but it is, you know, it's hard to be in the middle of this whole thing. Like what, what do you do? You don't necessarily want to take a side in this. Like this type of, in this type of world. It's like a very tough position to always be in, where you look to your left and it's like, oh, those freaks. And you look to your right like, oh, those guys, you know.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think, before the year of 2022, which, you know, 2022 may be marked the the moment to the year that you you got to choose, meaning if you Want to stay in China or you you get the fuck out of it. Like 2022, like during the massive city lockdowns where people see how the government treated its people by putting them into this massive sort of like internment camp a style, you know, hospitals or places where you can somehow get quarantined and some other very extreme measures to to keep people from getting sick, but ended up the whole policy was executed extremely messy. Many people died from this. You know side my detention many people died from lockdown and when the all the cities all the sudden open up, a lot more people died from infection and from the shortage of medical assistance.

Speaker 2:

So you know, 2022 was definitely the year where a lot of people completely lost faith to China's future. You know, from the capital's perspective just give you One example of how capital lost faith in China's future is, if you know, take talk right Really strong. You know, advertisement revenue generator Tiktok's mother company, by dance. I think their revenue scaled as nearly approached to meta, meaning like by dance and meta are like pretty much making the same revenue last year I mean this year, sorry, this year, 2023, but by dance only valued One fourth of what metas validation is. You know where is that? You know, three, three, four. It's worth coming from. You know, lose to. It's because people completely lost faith To, to China due to this geopolitical uncertainty. And I like for a fact I know many of my parents, friends, many of my friends Left China just because they see a Deemer reality in the future China when they went after they see the government to sort of implemented this extreme COVID lockdown or like whatever measures was in China.

Speaker 1:

Hmm, yeah, I remember my, because I have family From China and they were in the beginning like very, very supportive, I think, compared from you know they were based in the US seeing like the US's response basically being nothing, and then watching China them saying like why can't, how is China able to do this and we're not able to do? Like basically anything. So they were very supportive at that time and then towards the end, I think it became they thought it was too much. I think just, I mean it is interesting that like China you know, I don't know if you know much about like Nick land or like these kind of like hyper Capitalists, people who actually they love China Because they think it is like the, the place where capitalism will like Reach its peak.

Speaker 1:

You know we'll go to its most extreme, especially like technologized capitalism. Yeah, but it is like a bit, a bit, I mean, when you see the kind of like from what I understood, kind of like you have the phone app where if you were near someone else who Potentially had COVID, then you know you'd be locked in your and your you're required to stay in your your apartment for for two weeks or something like that.

Speaker 1:

Which that can feel it. It feels very sci-fi dystopian.

Speaker 2:

Sure, yeah, yeah, absolutely. One other thing is people lost faith in China Because previously the Chinese leadership, let's say, is a very meritocracy based Sort of selection. You do have a very black boxed political operation by the party, but the party or the black box, at least you know like a multiple people are in the black box making decisions, you know, collectively, and now this is just a one man Party, which is pretty scary yeah.

Speaker 1:

How so like? How do you know that?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, just the very obvious truth about dictatorship, which I don't want to expand too much Because I'm scared so, when it comes to, is there something?

Speaker 1:

when it comes to cryptocurrency, what is it exactly that you think attracts From the Chinese perspective? What attracts people to it?

Speaker 2:

From a very like. As far as I know, people are attracted to cryptocurrency for its Like potential of investment return. That's like what draws like a lot of people into cryptocurrency in China. But for a fact, I know like a lot of idealistic People like developers or programmers definitely start to build meaningful projects around Ethereum when they learn about Ethereum operating as a decentralized world computer.

Speaker 1:

Ethereum kind of like the largest.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think so. I think Ethereum ecosystem is the largest ecosystem, like, no matter, like anywhere, maybe in China as well that attracts the most talented developers. Yeah, but the thing is we, we see this Grand exodus of Chinese people leaving China and moving their capital and moving their physical body to Southeast Asia, such as Singapore, such as Qingmai, thailand and Bangkok, and this is happening, is, is the new crypto rich, and the, the, the, the, the, the crypto capital, along with the human capital, start to like really flee from China and go to, you know, you know, previously called Nanyang, which means the, you know Chinese term that translate into Southeast to, to find, like a safer haven, to to survive. Yeah, so like right now, if you really go to go to Southeast Asia, you go to Singapore. There are a lot of Chinese investors, chinese crypto investors, in Singapore. That's why the biggest Crypto conference token 20, 20, 20, 49 was held in in Singapore and, for a fact, I know, like you know, maybe more than half of the participants are Our people with was, you know, more or less Chinese backgrounds.

Speaker 2:

And and then there are some native crypto community Sort of initiated in in Thailand, for sees, for example, is one community I know where they want to purchase land and real estate in Qingmai to establish, assign my permanent crypto like crypto entity or crypto community where Chinese crypto people can come and go and some of them can live there A constant like they live as, like more like stationary thing. And then there are GCC. Global Chinese community is also sort of derived from, you know, that group of people and we see Waimou, this, this group of crypto conference organizers which also broadly they maybe referred to, maybe refer to a community was like maybe a thousand people, rich also, sort of you know, moving from Dali, which is like previously a crypto haven, to to Thailand, to Chiang Mai, and you know, like many more, like sort of Chinese diaspora community Started to do things in in Thailand, not not just crypto. Like some Chinese, like journalists people went to Chiang Mai. Some Chinese LGBTQ people Move to Chiang Mai just simply because there's no enough space for them to thrive in mainland China.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, Hi everyone. If you're enjoying this episode so far, be sure to subscribe, leave a review, share with a friend and join the crypto leftist communities on discord or reddit, which you can find links to in the show notes. If you're enjoying the episode or find the content to make important, you can pitch into my efforts, starting at $3 a month on Patreoncom slash the blockchain socialist. Help me out and join the nearly 100 other patrons that contribute financially, which really helps, since making this stuff isn't free in terms of money or time. As a patron, you'll get a shout out on an episode and access to bonus content like Q&A episodes. You can submit and vote on questions You'd like me to answer and I'll give my thoughts in roughly 20 minutes.

Speaker 1:

The current bonus episodes have so far explored plenty of topics, including how co-ops and dows relate, whether there is a socialist blockchain or a view of previous crypto events I've been to, and recently a video reaction to an episode of the D program. Of course, I'll still be making free contents like this episode to help spread the message that blockchain doesn't need to be used to further Enchant capitalists exploitation if we put our efforts into it. So if that message resonates with you, I hope you'll consider helping out. So it's so then, crypto does it kind of just represent for a lot of them, just kind of like their ability to. I think when, when you experience like wanting to leave a particular place, then you maybe have a slight trauma about like potentially needing to leave again and having some way of being able to have the things that you have, or have the access to the, at least your capital. You're interested in crypto to be able to move it with you Without needing to like have to deal with a new legal regime or things like that.

Speaker 1:

Is that kind of what you think like a big part of the the interest is coming from In Diaspora communities at least.

Speaker 2:

You mean? Can you rephrase the question again?

Speaker 1:

I mean basically that, like you can, crypto is interesting because you can leave, like if you have left the state because, you don't, you are afraid, or you don't like it, you feel very negative about it, and there is some possibility of like having things taken from you, or you feel that you could have things taken from you, having at least some amount of capital which you can use. In a globalized you know, in global capitalism, you at least have some amount of capital that you can take to another place, where then you can, you know, at least have not have to start from zero.

Speaker 2:

Right, right, yeah, certainly People can definitely enable this in a sense personal sovereignty and individual freedom, especially when you are in this regime where you're like the like, whatever, like the space of freedom just getting more like narrow and narrow. And in terms of the Thailand case, there's a famous saying in China use your feet to vote. And that happens through the entire Chinese history. Is people left China and, you know, spread out somewhere else? Because they voted their fate with their feet right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, that's a saying in English as well.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the pull force and the push force right, when you decide to move to a certain place, there's a push force from where you're from and there's a pull force from the place in your world you're immigrated to.

Speaker 1:

Right, right, but it's a very. It's also yeah, it is like whenever you have to exit, yeah, with that phrase I'm sometimes. I'm like is, I don't know voting is the right word for it, because it's sort of like exit. It's like less voice and more exit, but I guess it's sick. It signals in some way at a higher level of view that people want to leave this place and they're going to this other place for you know XYZ reason.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, I think throughout the Chinese history, leaving China would always give people more agency, in a sense. And just just to refer back to the history of San Anyang going to Southeast right People going to places like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, everywhere it's like a. It's a history not just started in the early 2020s. But, this whole history of Chinese people moving to Southeast Asia happened in the early 2020s, like within the last two decades I mean, I'm sorry, last two centuries.

Speaker 1:

In the 19th century, the whole reason that, like Singapore, didn't join Malaysia, was because it was there are too many Chinese and Malaysia didn't want Singapore.

Speaker 2:

Exactly, there are, you see, like Chinese people, like migrants to variety parts of the world throughout the entire. That's why there's this famous saying called China is a process. China is not a fixed state.

Speaker 2:

I was talking to my friend yesterday in a table during dinner time I said we're all carrying a piece of China and we're that process of China. And when you're immigrating into a new world, it doesn't necessarily means you cut off that tie with China, but you're still sort of using your, using your front body to embrace the new world, but also on your back, your China is like still witnessing you and you're just a continuous process of China. Like I am China, I'm a hard work of China in a sense. So, yeah, china is a process and there are 18 million Chinese languages, chinese speaking people living many, many parts of the world, from places like Singapore, malaysia, you know, hong Kong, taiwan, who has been like physical places that being, like embracing and welcoming Chinese immigrants the past many, many years. But places like California, where I live, and New York, where many of my friends live, have a lot of Chinese immigrants. So, yeah, china is a process indeed and, yeah, I can definitely see the process in the year for seven.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, interesting, I mean, yeah, I mean I, I, I resonate a lot with that. I think it's it's very like, I mean whatever, I mean to be like stereotypical. It's like it seems like a very like Eastern perspective about these things, Whereas I think in the West we have a lot of. We have like the platonic ideal is like very prevalent in the West, where there's like a still image of what is something whether that be I mean America or Europe or whatever else when really all these things are constantly changing and going through a process of evolution for like, whatever, like the modern time is.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean I resonate with that because I mean my family is also immigrants, so like and but when I think about the immigrant story, especially in America, a lot of it oftentimes includes like removing or detaching your connection to the previous place that you were, that you are no longer, you're no longer a Mexican, you are American, and there's a. I think there's like a tendency for people either who immigrate, immigrate or who are, who are children of immigrants, to like hate that side of them or to hate the place that they come from. They don't want to identify with it because of I don't know either like racist associations with it in the country or or things like that. But it is like a fact. It is true that, like you're intrinsically, there is a connection between you and when you come from.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 1:

I think, in the case of China, though, from at least the bit of history that I understand and that I've been shared with by a lot of people, is that China has a huge history of revolution.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

Of like constant revolution and constant and therefore a lot of these waves of people leaving China come from potentially like either the losing side of a revolution or whatever else, until they had to leave to places around, which is, I mean, you can argue, is the case for, like many different nationalities of people and diasporas are just like from internal conflict. That then, like spills over.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think for me, like often I lived in Southern California for a long time and just observing the Chinese community gives me a lot of like perspectives on the history of Chinese immigrants. You know, you entered Los Angeles, china Tang that's the immigrants you know moved to the US in like the 19th century, early 20th century. And then you go to new cities like Roll and Hyde. There are a lot of immigrants moved to those cities in like in the 1980s when China opened up its economy and opened up to the Western world. And after the Cultural Revolution people can get educated in the US. So like a batch of Chinese immigrants moved to the US to get educated and then and so forth, forged like some local communities in places like Roll and Hyde, in Arcadia and the San Gabriel Valley.

Speaker 2:

And then fast forward. We're in the early 21st century where China sort of completely opened up its economy and there's like a new class of rich Chinese people who would buy properties, who would buy, you know, luxury houses in Irvine and in Newport Beach, you know the adjacent area, and those are the people who who are made themselves in China but wanted to give their, their children, a better future, a better education in the US and of course you know US is like a favorable destination for immigration for many Chinese people. And then you see an entire new landscape of Irvine, places like Irvine where the Florida, the second generation rich Chinese people, would hand out, like in Irvine. So you know, just our drive in South California will give you like you will walk through the entire modern Chinese history.

Speaker 2:

Different generations with different generations of capitals accumulated through different stages of China.

Speaker 1:

No, that's interesting. It was interesting when I went to university. There were a lot of very wealthy Chinese international students who came and it was interesting hearing their perspective.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, and then I actually can not necessarily just introduce you with. You know what my co-host of that decentralized social day, guo, what he was doing is? He co-founded this writing platform called matterstown. Matterstown is this IPFS based Chinese language writing platform, serves the Chinese population who are no longer in China but still need a place to exchange ideas, to write to, to sort of recontent, simply because we chat.

Speaker 2:

This really really censored many, many social media platforms in China are heavily censored and you can't really get satisfactory content from those platforms.

Speaker 2:

So matters is not necessarily an Ethereum or Web3 project, but it is a project that supports anti-censorship mechanism, supports decentralization, meaning, whoever like, if you write on matterstown, you don't necessarily need to worry about your content banned from that platform, and since 2002, since 2022, you can log in not just with your email but also with your Ethereum wallet.

Speaker 2:

So I see you know matterstown asa very promising use case of Ethereum, of crypto, of decentralization, and I think it really speaks to my desire of getting involved in crypto. Yeah, so it's not a crypto native platform like Muro, it's. The content is not even on chain because it's not necessary, right, but it indeed connected a lot of Chinese writing community among users who are in Milan, china, taiwan and Hong Kong and gave them. It's a really rare right now that you know users from Milan, china, taiwan and Hong Kong and you know users from Singapore, malaysia, or you know people live in West Coast, can't access to to a single platform and write, exchange ideas freely, and then in Mandarin Chinese and the co-founder, guo and Jie Ping, are. You know really people who I respect deeply, and especially Jie Ping. She's a experienced journalist who lived in Hong Kong for 10 years and now lives in Taiwan as, like, independent journalist.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I wanted to ask as well, I think based, you know, based on your experiences in the crypto world so far Are there any like Western biases that you see in this space that you think a light should be shed on or that you want to to take note of?

Speaker 2:

In terms of talking about Western biases, I want to talk about the surviving situation for Chinese entrepreneurs. So previously in tech there is this word called Chu Hai. Chu Hai means going overseas. It is a term refers to people like the founder, zhang Yiming, who want to expand TikTok overseas. This previously was just a few good strategy or good to have kind of strategy for many Chinese tech people. But now, especially not just Chinese tech, but Chinese crypto tech Chu Hai became a necessity. But how to Chu Hai Chu Hai means you not only need to provide really robust tech product or infrastructure for users, but you need to learn the users. You need to learn about the contacts. So I see many, many Chinese tech builders, not only in Ethereum, but like Chinese tech builders in general, felt this tremendous frustration because they simply cannot contextualize the Western users needs and this contextual gap became their biggest weaknesses.

Speaker 1:

So I've seen but do you think that's the same vice versa as well?

Speaker 2:

That's not necessarily a very balanced vice versa. There's no space, there's no Chinese users, let's say, in crypto, and there's only crypto users in the Western world, if that makes sense. So I've only seen like this one Ethereum builder who is frustrated because he says he says, oh, I'm doing something really similar to what ENS is doing and my team can probably finish all the ENS coding within two weeks. But why my project is not as legitimate or as gaining as much traction as ENS does in the space is simply because we don't know how to align ourselves with Ethereum. And aligning ourselves with Ethereum means we need to contextualize ourselves with their ideology, their lingual, their culture and whatever the Ethereum mainstream is.

Speaker 2:

And, of course, aligning with Ethereum became an inner joke among many developers simply because aligning Ethereum became some sort of political cragness. But this speaks to greater frustration to builders, especially Chinese builders, who, first of all, they're facing a big language barrier. So, in terms of Western biases, it's not necessarily a bias, but it's more like a Western ideology domination which can be really translated to Chinese community. And this sort of domination is really unwelcoming to Chinese language speakers, which could post a greater threat to the healthy development of Ethereum.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, I mean when I think of all of the biggest projects in the crypto world, I only think of really projects by either people who are I mean, they're largely based in the West it's globalized but people who are from Western countries, from Europe or from the US. Yeah, I don't, I'm not really aware of any like or maybe I can if I think a little bit more but I'm not aware of too many like big Chinese crypto projects. Besides, maybe these centralized exchanges Right, right, right. So I'm pretty sure there are enough talents want to build things.

Speaker 2:

So I think that's a good point. There are enough talents want to build things. There are enough tenacity and enthusiasm of you know smart enough developers want to build things. It just just just true. Highlight in the ideological sense is challenging, yeah.

Speaker 1:

And language is a big part. I think like, yeah, if you can't, if you can't write to your audience as well, it's, it's quite difficult.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah. I've definitely seen products with their description contains like some grima, like grima arrows. That would completely just throw people off right. And that's really.

Speaker 1:

I would if I read a website with like a big with some sort of grammatical error, then I'm like it's a red flag.

Speaker 2:

Right.

Speaker 1:

Because I you know, crypto is also like a dangerous world where, if something is spelled wrong and like, that's enough reason for me to like think that maybe you're stealing my money.

Speaker 2:

True, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

Because if something happens and I can't reverse it, oh, you're maybe in like another country, or you can't even speak. If you can't speak my language necessarily, or you know, I don't know if you can.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 1:

It's tough.

Speaker 2:

It's a tough problem. It's a tough problem when just not only like, maybe ideology wise, or, like you know, not just like putting up a decent marketing material, but like just ideology wise I also see a very big challenge of like really aligning Chinese developers into a theater.

Speaker 1:

I would think that Chinese developers would also be. There might be certain practices or like they're using it for different things than like maybe the Western developers using it for or like the things that they are interested in building would be different, very different. Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And their motivations are also different as well, and to be tested. I would say, Um, yeah. So in a sense, I often question myself like am I being washed to to only trust certain narrative but not the others? But yeah, I don't know. Yeah, but yeah, but like, just statistically speaking, you're more likely to get into like fishing, or traps in like the non-English environment.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, Josh, you should remove this part. This is me like my PC. Police is coming after me.

Speaker 1:

No, but I mean, look, I think it's not surprising. I think the West has created the situation and the world where you know people from other countries like I mean I have, I don't want my money stolen, but like I'm not going to, like I don't know, spend all my time like I don't know, bad talking people in poorer countries trying to make their money whenever, like, like they're in a they're like you know they were colonized by the West anyways where all their wealth was stolen, so like they're just trying to steal some back.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, totally man Just it's a fact, it's a fact. It's a fact, it's just. I feel like it's really hard to talk about colonialism or talking about money and innovation. It's just, it's, it's, it's like fundamentally related. Yeah like why a lot of Chinese entrepreneurs are not doing well in English crypto world. You know one is because of the mis, whatever the misfortunes happen in China. But like the root cause is really colonialism.

Speaker 1:

Sure yeah.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, the root cause. Yeah, I mean like why China, as a strong country, cannot collaborate friendly with the West.

Speaker 1:

Right.

Speaker 2:

Because the the dirty, brutal hundred years of humiliation of China. Like how, if I were the Chinese leadership, I would probably be absolutely suspicious about having a full hundred percent open up to to the West.

Speaker 1:

Definitely.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, china was essentially a British colony for a long time.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I recommend people to look up the opium wars if you want to see, like how brutal, like the, the treating of of Chinese people by by the British for a long time, just for a small thing, and yeah, so it is.

Speaker 1:

I think there's.

Speaker 1:

I think this like geopolitical reality is oftentimes missed when we're talking about like China and the West, that like there's already this huge history that has happened and there are already sort of like like flags planted in the ground by the West in many ways in places that don't allow for like I think much of the sort of ways that you know may be seen as like authoritarianisms in certain ways or kind of like reactions to a very difficult geopolitical situation where America has enjoyed its hegemony for the past 70 years after the after World War II, and capitalism has done its thing, where basically money from the US, wealthy people have gone to other countries and used China as a place for cheap labor for a long time.

Speaker 1:

Now China has a bunch of their wealth and now they want to not like have their wealth leave the country. So now, like it's like this, I see it just like a horrific, you know like cycle of violence that like we haven't been able to just like acknowledge and like we take, think about that root problem as like the thing that we should be tackling. Instead, we like just, we tend to just revert back to our nationalisms, to like blame you know the other that they're doing that, and look how horrific they are now and like never sort of like look internally at what we've done.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, yeah, true. My comment is I agree with everything you just said.

Speaker 1:

All right, so we're coming up on the hour. Maybe one last thing Do you want to talk a little bit about Zuzalu and ZUKANEC, since you were at both of them and you've organized a little bit of it? Zukanec was quite different than Zuzalu it was in Istanbul, in the middle of the city, whereas Zuzalu was at a bit of a bubble in Montenegro, on a bay, in a five star resort. But yeah, do you want to talk about what were the differences between these two events and maybe some of the learnings that you took into ZUKANEC?

Speaker 2:

Disclaimer I love Zuzalu, okay, just because I do like this experiment of innovation, cross-pollination, and I do want to be looped in. So, in terms of like the criticism part, I have some and I've been like talking to my friends about, you know, like my criticism, criticism against Zuzalu, but just from a very genuine level. I think Zuzalu is a very interesting venue and arena to put different people together to at least acknowledge each other Like previously before knowing about Zuzalu, I do not know. There's a cohort of longevity people who are passionate about a lot of things.

Speaker 2:

I talk about such as not die. And then, I did not know, there was like a whole group of people who are, who are, you know, use very, very different approach to build something that could close to Bellagio's notion of network states, you know, building different communities across the world and before, as was Adu, I do not know some very interesting these people who are doing, you know, you know biology or like whatever science, research based on Ethereum. So it was really really eye-opening to me and, in a sense, life-changing because, just simply, I have absorbed a lot of information and made a lot of new connections. And yeah, zuzalu version one was the iPhone 4, you know, in a sense, what happened. The classic Zuzalu version happened in Montenegro as a two-month sort of pop-up community style where, yes, it's happened in an exclusive resort with 200 people invited by the quote unquote Zuzalu core team at the time and then adding on the visitors and the short-term residents. I think the first Zuzalu, there are like 700 to 800 people visited Lusitcia, which was the resort. And, yeah, the Zuzalak experience is shorter. It's like a capsulated version of the Zuzalu one. It was only two weeks but within those two weeks it's essentially have a lot of similar component of the first Zuzalu where people can eat breakfast together, people can co-work together, people can do co-plunge together and people can just again like variety of people or being sort of converging to the same space. And you know there are different theme dates. You know, one day people will be talking about AI and art. One day people will talk about network states. One day people will talk about decentralized science and biology and then one day we'll talk about that, you know, decentralized social. And that's the day I was curating.

Speaker 2:

I think it's my first time encountering the complexity of governing a plural community. What I mean by plural we're talking about this community is consisted of really, really nerdy and smart and in-depth for example, ethereum Foundation researchers and ZK researchers. This is a community where people being practicing, being organizing network states. You know they flew in. I'm talking about a community where a lot of Chinese public goods people would come who live in Chiang Mai. I'm talking about really young, like 19-year-old, 20-year-old, web3 hackers, djs. This plural community composed a very smaller fracture of either friend groups or conversations and they somehow weirdly coexist and somehow even harmoniously. I definitely see some really weird person-to-person friendship. I was like, oh how the hell this person, that person, can become good friends. But this just happened in Zulu and this is the magic about Zulu.

Speaker 2:

I was also talking to Jeanette, one of the main organizers. I said I was so worried that the first Zulu's magic would disappear in this temple, because this temple is essentially a very overwhelming big city. What if people's passion and people's connection got diffused by the setting of this temple, given how many things are happening every day? Later, the last day of Zulu Connect, I told Jeanette. I said I can put my worry away on my ease right now, because the magic didn't go anywhere. The magic was being carried by whoever the people who were attending Zulu or Zulu Connect. For myself, I indeed enjoyed being a contributor, being one of the organizers of Zulu Connect. I was also happy, like a lot of people, especially newer ones. New participants see me as their core experience of Zulu and see me as some embodiment of Zulu. I'm really happy I can be the proxy of Zulu to many communities who didn't get to participate the first one.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, as someone who attended basically the ending of both of them, what I enjoy the most out of things is that it does provide a space to converse in a very open-minded space and community of people. I have been honestly, very, very surprised to the amount of people who have either listened to my podcast or whatever. I get a lot of like oh, I follow you on Twitter, I like your tweets, I go thanks, man. I've been very surprised by that, to see how much my content has been able to reach people who are in these types of crypto circles already.

Speaker 2:

One example would be in the first Zulu there's a whole week dedicated to Bellagy's side of network states, where I see the darker side of network states, where just going into Dome, which is a mean conference place, you can see the 99% of the network states organizers or network state speakers are male or white male. But later we got the. Primavera came and she had the mission of overthrowing our states. O TNS, her narrative of waving the community together, of having your coin in the concept of coordination, also became a very essential part of my Zuzala experience. So I see those two clans or tribes existed in the community at a different time but they're all essential to this community. I think this is really important to me. So I hope to see this pluralism going forward and being carried forward by Zuzala and I think that's a charm and I do want to see Primavera and Bellagy be in the same room and I buy popcorn.

Speaker 1:

I'm totally open to debating. I think he hasn't yet had the courage to acknowledge us and the criticisms.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, so we generally invite Josh and Bellagy to join the next Zuzalo.

Speaker 1:

If you invite me to debate him, I'll be there.

Speaker 2:

Hi Bellagy, Dm, Dm, Dm. Slide into Bellagy's DM.

Speaker 1:

All right, well, thanks so much, afe, for coming on. Is there any last things you would like to plug for people before we end it? Or just tell kids to stay off the Internet. Don't get addicted to their phones and screens.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I think two things. One is yeah, tiktok is bad. Second is I hope I can see myself as a reminder of a lot of people's mission in terms of joining crypto, or a lot of people's idealistic mission of joining crypto, like for me, joining crypto. I was really drawn by the lofty pie in the sky idea of crypto can enable, enhance people's agency. Crypto can help the information flow better with decentralized technology, and I think this is a constant practice Like this is some mantra. You just have to tell yourself every morning why you joined the space. It's not because of monkey festival or dog coins. It's because this space has beautiful ideas and beautiful beauters, and those beautiful ideas and beautiful beauters can hopefully make this space more beautiful in the future. Sorry if we give you a very halo ending, but yeah, I want to return back to my intention of why I'm here.

Speaker 2:

Great Well, thanks so much for coming on. Thanks for inviting me, chrisync. All cool.

The Chinese Perspective on Crypto
China's Cryptocurrency History and Government Impact
Chinese Crypto and Human Capital Exodus
Chinese Diasporas and Crypto's Immigration Role
Challenges and Colonialism in Crypto World
Comparing Zukanec and Zuzalu Events
The Importance of Crypto's Ideals