China backs blockchain, Bitcoin soars

Bitcoin increased its market cap by $55 billion after Chinese President Xi Jinping said China must "seize the opportunity" for blockchain technology.

"We must take blockchain as an important breakthrough for independent innovation of core technologies, clarify the main directions, increase investment, focus on a number of key technologies, and accelerate the development of blockchain and industrial innovation," Xi said according to a report from the country's official Xinhua News Agency.

The comments come after China banned all cryptocurrency and Initial Coin Offerings in 2017, with the nations' central bank, the People's Bank of China (PBOC), working on its own digital currency.

The sharp rise in bitcoin saw its value jump to over US$10,000 after Xi's remarks.

The unexpected validation of blockchain by President Xi comes as the United States and China are in the late stages of trying to reach a trade deal.  The two nations have engaged in a tech war over companies like China's Huawei.

"Major countries are stepping up their efforts to plan the development of blockchain technology. Greater effort should be made to strengthen basic research and boost innovation capacity to help China gain an edge in the theoretical, innovative and industrial aspects of this emerging field," Xi said.

The PBOC began research into the use of virtual currencies back in 2014 in a bid to reduce the costs of circulating traditional physical currencies.

Xi said the technology could be applied to make different fields, including finance, infrastructure management and public services.

Chinese tech firm, Xunlei, which offers blockchain-based services, rose 107% on the Nasdaq following President Xi's comments.

Read more: BitcoinChinese President Xi JinpingPBOCHuaweiNasdaqXinhua News AgencyXunlei
Link to something Ab7Tosek