hina has unveiled ambitious plans to develop a nationwide blockchain-based decentralized digital identity system called RealDID. The system will enable the verification and authentication of identities for China's vast population of over 1.4 billion residents.
The RealDID platform is a collaborative project between China's Ministry of Public Security and the Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), China's national blockchain initiative.
Once implemented, RealDID will be the world's largest digital identity network, surpassing any existing identifying system in scale and scope.
Social Media Requirement Driving Digital ID Adoption
In recent months, Chinese authorities have placed new requirements on social media influencers with large follower counts. Content creators with over 500,000 or 1 million followers on major platforms like WeChat, Sina Weibo and others must publicly display their real names.
This change is driving demand for verified digital identities among internet users in China. The RealDID system will make it possible for residents to log into websites and services online using decentralized identifiers (DIDs) tied to their government-verified identities.
How the RealDID System Will Work
Through the RealDID platform, Chinese citizens will be able to register their identities and generate unique blockchain-based addresses called DIDs. These DIDs will serve as pseudonymous online identifiers unconnected to users' personal details.
Individual identification data like names, national IDs, addresses etc. will be stored privately on users' devices, with only cryptographic proof of the verification process published publicly. This ensures privacy while still enabling authentication.
DIDs can then be used to securely login to services without compromising users' personal information. The system is intended to be decentralized with the BSN operating international functions separately from domestic Chinese operations.
US-China Tensions amid Growing Blockchain Adoption
As China pushes forward with nationwide blockchain deployment plans, tensions with the US continue increasing in other areas. US lawmakers have proposed legislation aiming to ban government use of blockchains developed by Chinese firms due to national security concerns. However, the US also recently removed some Chinese entities from trade blacklist in a bid to foster counter-narcotics cooperation.
Meanwhile, Chinese tech giants like Tencent and Huawei are actively participating in global blockchain and crypto sector events despite the country's restrictions locally. Major companies are exploring opportunities in decentralized technologies even without trading digital assets itself.
The divergence between the US and Chinese approaches to emerging technologies like blockchain underlines the geopolitical challenges ahead.
China's rollout of a cryptocurrency-based national digital identification infrastructure will create the largest such system globally. The RealDID platform has potential for widespread use-cases in areas like online authentication, e-government services, and more.
However, implementation at scale for 1.4 billion users will be an immense technical challenge. US-China tensions also introduce uncertainties for cross-border interoperability.
Overall, the project reflects China's ambitious drive to harness decentralized technologies for centralized objectives as it seeks to establish dominance in this evolving space.