Baidu, China’s leading search engine, has recently joined Alibaba and Tencent, distancing itself from cryptocurrencies amid China’s crackdown. Baidu has now moved to censor crypto discussions on its online forums.
According to local news outlet China Times, Baidu has recently shut down some of its most popular cryptocurrency-related forums, known as Post Bar services. Among the forums taken down are “Digital Currency Bar” and “Virtual Currency Bar.”
When searching for these forums online, users are greeted with a message that reads:
[This forum is temporarily closed] in accordance with relevant laws, regulations and policies.
Per the China Times, Baidu has “toughened its scrutiny over digital currency and will not allow sub-forums under this theme” based on the abovementioned reasons. Baidu’s forum business was launched back in 2003, and notably has over 300 monthly active users.
The search giant’s move comes shortly after Tencent and Alibaba revealed they were cracking down on crypto. Tencent itself revealed it will ban cryptocurrency trading on its popular WeChat app through measures that reportedly include real-time transaction monitoring and blocking transactions deemed suspicious.
Similarly, as CryptoGlobe covered, the largest payment processor in China, Alipay, banned accounts engaging in over-the-counter (OTC) bitcoin trading while warning users against “false propaganda.” How both Alipay and Tencent monitor crypto trading is currently unclear.
China began its crackdown on cryptocurrencies in September of last year, when it banned domestic cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs) from the country. Its move forced various companies to move abroad, and saw some close.
ICO projects have since then started launching in friendlier jurisdictions like Singapore. Many, according to reports, still focus on getting new customers in China through online platforms like Telegram and WeChat.
Censors in China have recently shut down numerous cryptocurrency-related accounts on WeChat, including some owned by popular media start-ups. Earlier this month, Beijing’s central Chaoyang district distributed a notice that banned office buildings, shopping malls, and hotels, from hosting events promoting cryptocurrencies.
According to some, authorities in the country are set to block access to 124 cryptocurrency-related websites in the country to stop Chinese citizens from trading crypto. Some users in the country are notably already bypassing the censorship enforced by the ‘Great Firewall of China’ through virtual private networks (VPNs).