Chinese courts are finding it increasingly difficult to legislate on Bitcoin, with various judiciaries across the nation bringing different verdicts on whether the cryptocurrency is protected by law.

The confusion arose when on May 13th, the Fujian Rule of Law News reported on a case involving a “Bitcoin themed club”. There was a dispute raised by the plaintiff, named only as Liao after he invested 500,000 yuan ($70,500) into the club. 

However, once it was clear that Liao was not going to receive a high return on investment he went to the authorities and sued the operators. 

The Plaintiff was left disappointed though as the Changting People’s Court dismissed his claim. The reason? Bitcoin was a virtual commodity and not something they could legislate on.

Other Chinese courts view Bitcoin differently

Liao and his lawyer must have been disappointed with this result, especially considering that previous Bitcoin-related cases had found the founding cryptocurrency to be a digital asset protected by law. 

Just this month, the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court ruled in favour of Bitcoin being an entity they could rule on. 

The case related to a foreigner and his Chinese wife, Pete and Xiolai Wang, who in 2018 were robbed of their possessions by four men in their apartment and forced to transfer their cryptocurrency savings, which included BTC and Skycoin. 

After the court ruled that they should pay the funds back or the price in Yuan at the time, the robbers tried to appeal, claiming that as cryptocurrencies were not legally protected, they shouldn’t have to pay the money back. 

Yet, once again the Shanghai court ruled in the couple’s favour and ordered the criminals to pay back what they owed, effectively ruling that Bitcoin was a protected asset. As of now, the robbers have only returned the 18.88 BTC, not the Skycoin stolen. 

Other instances have added weight to Bitcoin’s standing in law. In July 2019 a court in Huangzhou ruled that Bitcoin was a digital asset. 

However, the often sceptical outlook and regulatory confusion exhibited by the Chinese government towards Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies only make the judicial system’s life more difficult. 

Potential fullscale regulation on Bitcoin and other digital currencies does look imminent especially with the launch of the Chinese digital currency electronic payment (DCEP). Some, like John McAfee, think this could be bad news for Bitcoin as the government could look to ban it in China.