context: Metaverse—an immerse virtual world connected but parallel to reality—and NFTs (non-fungible tokens)—essentially a certification technology for digital assets—are among some of the more prominent areas of interest in the global tech community, not least due to Facebook’s high-profile rebranding as Meta. Enthusiasts suggest that it could be the next-generation internet, a trillion-dollar market where people are better connected in a virtual space, while other pundits see it as another opportunity for tech giants to monopolise private data.

People’s Daily, Xinhua, China National Radio and other state media have warned of the risks of metaverse and NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

Stay alert to ‘capital hijacking’ (CP note: this can be interpreted as a reference to the efforts to curb ‘disorderly expansion of capital’), ethnic concerns, and regulatory gaps, warns Xinhua in an explainer of the metaverse, noting its evolving nature at the moment. Metaverse is commonly known as ‘digital twin technologies’ among industrial internet developers, experts told China National Radio, pioneered by aircraft firms Boeing and Lockheed Martin in the 1960s and 1970s. The metaverse simply represents the world-dominating ambitions of monopolistic tech companies, comments China National Radio, stressing the risk of offering ever more personal data to big tech.

The metaverse-created virtual world is supported by digital assets, Li Ming 李鸣 China Electronics Standardisation Institute blockchain director comments on the role of NFT in certifying digital assets in People’s Daily, just as the physical world is powered by physical assets. Several state media call on investors to remain vigilant, highlighting expert concerns

  • NFTs, powered by blockchain technology, cannot stop duplication of concerned digital assets
  • NFT issuers are not regulated
  • the valuation criteria for NFTs are not properly defined
  • NFTs are currently in the legal grey area as regulators have not clarified if they are virtual assets or a form of digital currency, the latter of which is banned from trading
  • NFTs may become vehicles for money laundering and tax evasion