WIKIPEDIA

CHINA’s official Xinhua News Agency is planning to issue news collectibles based on technology used in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) even as policy makers in Beijing have largely banned all crypto-related transactions.

The collectibles, minted from select news photography reports from this year, will be issued for free via its news app at 8 p.m. on Friday, the agency said in an announcement on Wednesday.

The move comes despite China’s sweeping crackdown in the crypto space, which in the past few years has meant bans on almost all activities from exchanges, initial coin offerings to mining and transactions. Other media outlets such as the New York Times and Cable News Network have earlier made similar offerings.

While Chinese authorities haven’t labeled NFTs illegal, it’s a grey area where any participant must tread carefully to avoid unwanted scrutiny. Domestic firms such as Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Ant Group Co. have issued NFTs on their tightly-controlled blockchain platforms. Domestic media had warned of “blind speculation” in NFTs.

NFTs run on public protocols like Ethereum and are traded freely outside of China, sometimes fetching millions of dollars. An NFT of a column about NFTs at the New York Times sold for $560,000.

Xinhua’s “digital news collectibles” will have unique identification and ownership information on a blockchain from Tencent Cloud, and are of “special commemorative significance and collection value,” the agency said. Tencent and Ant also previously changed the name for NFTs on their platforms to “digital collectibles.” A total of 11 will be offered, each limited to 10,000 units, in the first batch, along with a special edition, according to Xinhua.

“It’s a unique year-end review,” Xinhua said. “Moreover, it’s digital memory written in the metaverse.” — Bloomberg