Last year, I wrote about the concept of building Network States and how China's long history can teach us valuable lessons on the subject. Today, I want to take a step forward and discuss the future in more detail.
While China's centralised and authoritarian political system may seem like an unlikely candidate for any connection with the Network State, there are several ways in which China can teach us and help us move toward building the Network States.
Firstly, China has been investing heavily in blockchain technology for years. One of the most popular blockchain-based initiatives is the Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), which aims to provide a universal digital infrastructure for blockchain applications. The BSN is a public infrastructure network that allows developers to build and deploy blockchain applications more quickly and cheaply.
Major Chinese tech companies, including Huawei, Tencent, and China Mobile support it. The BSN has the potential to become a global platform for blockchain development and deployment, which would be a significant step towards creating a Network State. With this infrastructure in place, trustless and transparent transactions could become the norm, which would be an important step towards building Network States.
Secondly, China has millions of large and active online communities that are organised around various interest groups and social networks. These communities often operate independently of the government (but under the government's watch) with their own rules and norms.
For example, the crazy "fans" (粉丝, "fen si" in Chinese) culture is one such community where people are devoted followers of celebrities, musicians, and actors. These fans organise themselves into large online communities to share news, photos, and videos of their favourite stars and organise mass purchases of their idols' products to boost their sales and popularity. The influence of these communities is staggering as they can mobilise millions of people within hours.
In a 2021 survey by the China Youth Daily, 82.8% of respondents said they had been part of a fan community of someone at some point in their lives, with the majority of fans being young people aged 18-35. According to a report by the Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com, fans of pop idol Cai Xukun spent over 200 million yuan (about $31 million) on merchandise related to him during a one-day shopping festival.
China's online fan economy was worth over 100 billion yuan (about $15.4 billion) in 2020, which is still increasing gradually and becoming a unique cultural phenomenon. These communities can be leveraged to build Network States, where the community members are the stakeholders, making decisions collectively or through smart contracts.
Finally, China has been at the forefront of adopting and developing new technologies and exploring blockchain technology for various applications. For instance, China is creating a digital version of its currency (Digital Yuan), which could provide the infrastructure for a decentralised financial system outside the traditional banking system. Moreover, China has also been investing heavily in artificial intelligence (AI) and big data, which are critical components of the Network State model. They could be used to create self-governing communities that operate on a set of rules and principles that are enforced by code, or decentralised marketplaces that operate on a trustless and transparent basis.
In conclusion, The Network State model is still in its infancy, but it is profoundly shaping the future of society and governance. As we look towards the future, China's unique political and economic system could provide an interesting case study for developing and implementing the Network State concept. Learning from China's technological advancements and large online communities and applying them to our own contexts, we could make significant strides towards building Network States that are transparent, autonomous, and decentralised.