Top Chinese bitcoin exchange shuts down

Above, a physical bitcoin from Chinese bitcoin exchange BTCC. (Courtesy BTCC)
Updated 14 September 2017
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Top Chinese bitcoin exchange shuts down

BEIJING: One of the biggest bitcoin exchanges in China and the world announced Thursday that it would stop all trading following new Chinese government regulations clamping down on crypto-currencies.
The international value of bitcoin has plunged in recent days amid speculation that the Chinese authorities will shut down the trading platforms following last week’s ban on initial coin offerings.
BTCC – China’s second bitcoin platform in terms of volume and the world’s third largest – said on its Twitter account that “after carefully considering” the announcement by Chinese regulators, it will “stop all trading” on September 30.
The Chinese central bank’s announcement last week meant that Chinese firms would no longer be able to issue electronic currency units to raise funds.
Following the decision, the National Internet Finance Association of China said Wednesday that there was “no legal basis for platforms which engage in the trading of various forms of ‘virtual currencies’”.
The association, which was created by the central bank, warned on its website that such currencies are “increasingly used as a tool in criminal activities such as money laundering, drug trafficking, smuggling, and illegal fundraising”.
The crypto-currency sank late Thursday.
According to the Bitcoin Price Index, which offers an average of the various global platforms, the currency had plunged as low as $3,640 by Thursday evening after peaking at an all-time high of around $4,359 on Tuesday.
The Chinese central bank’s move last week was seen as a way for Beijing to gain control over crypto-currencies, which are created using blockchain technology and are sold and bought online without any government regulation.
In an attempt to halt capital flight overseas and clean up its financial system, Beijing began early this year to tighten controls on bitcoin trading platforms by restricting, in particular, transactions considered excessively speculative.
The two main Chinese platforms, BTCC and Okcoin which operate in yuan, account for 22 percent of the world trade in bitcoins, according to reference website bitcoinity.org.


EU’s Barnier urges UK to accept EU court deal for Brexit

Updated 26 May 2018
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EU’s Barnier urges UK to accept EU court deal for Brexit

  • Brexit negotiator says Britain playing "hide and seek" by delaying details on trade relationship.
  • UK ministers decry remarks as not "helpful."

BRUSSELS: EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned Britain on Saturday that failing to agree a deal on the governance of a withdrawal treaty which preserves the primacy of the EU court would mean no treaty and no transition period.

Barnier also described British delays in spelling out what kind of trade relationship London wants as “a game of hide and seek” in remarks prepared for delivery to a gathering in Portugal of jurists specialized in EU law.

He chided British criticism of EU positions as a “blame game,” urging London to recognize that it could not retain many elements of EU membership after Brexit.

The sharp tone of the former French minister’s remarks follow several days of talks in Brussels between his team of EU negotiators and British counterparts, after which a senior EU official dismissed as “fantasy” both London’s overall proposals for future close relations and an offer to avoid a disruptive “hard border” between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

British ministers said those remarks were not “helpful.”

Barnier said he was ready to have “political level” talks to try to advance in three key areas where uncertainty remains, 10 months before Britain is due to leave in March 2019 — how to rule on future disputes over the withdrawal treaty, a “backstop” solution for the Irish border and a framework for future ties.

Referring to discussions within Prime Minister Theresa May’s government on whether to drop an insistence on having no customs union, he said: “If the United Kingdom would like to change its own red lines, it must tell us. The sooner the better.”
“We are asking for clarity,” he added. “A negotiation cannot be a game of hide and seek.”

On the issue of the governance of a withdrawal treaty, which both sides hope to have ready around October, Barnier repeated the EU’s insistence that primacy of the European Court of Justice inside the Union be maintained in regulating any dispute that could not be resolved by a joint committee appointed by the political leadership of the two sides.

“We cannot accept that a jurisdiction other that the Court of Justice of the European Union determines the law and imposes its interpretation on the institutions of the Union,” he said.

The role of British judges would be respected, he added.

But without an agreement on this, the whole deal would collapse: “Without an agreement on governance, there will be no withdrawal agreement and so no transition period.”

Many businesses are counting on an interim accord to maintain a broad status quo between Britain and the EU after Brexit until the end of 2020.

Barnier, who has been hoping to making substantial progress on key issues before May meets fellow EU leaders at a Brussels summit in a month, also criticized what he called a “blame game” in which British officials were accusing the EU of failing to show flexibility to allow continued close cooperation in areas such as security, the economy and research.

This, Barnier said, was to ignore the close legal framework within the EU which was the basis for trust and cooperation among its nation-state members. “We cannot share this decision-making autonomy with a third country,” he said.

“The United Kingdom must face up to the reality of the Union ... It is one thing to be inside the Union and another to be on the outside.”