Huobi, OKEx and Binance — some of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, which originated in China and which focus on Chinese investors and traders — have been blocked by the country’s most popular internet search engines and social media platforms.
Baidu — China’s most heavily used search engine — and its peer Sogo, alongside Twitter-like platform Weibo and Quora-like Zhihu, began blocking the keywords “Huobi,” “OKEx” and “Binance” as search terms in both Chinese and English last night.
Searches for “OKEx” on Baidu currently yield no results other than a notification that reads: “Sorry, there is no website related to OKEx.” Similar results appear in searches for “Binance” on Weibo. All the blocked keywords nevertheless remain searchable on WeChat, China’s biggest instant messaging app.
Chinese netizens have appear to have mixed feelings about the latest exercise in censorship of the three crypto exchanges. On the one hand, some say it represents a major reiteration of the government’s ban on crypto trading in China. On the other, some say that censoring search results is a gentler approach than an outright block on the crypto exchanges’ websites.
It is not the first time that Beijing has censored or blocked crypto-related internet content. Just three days earlier, 30 influential Chinese cryptocurrency-related Weibo accounts were blocked. And in March, the official Weibo accounts of Huobi, OKEx and Binance were suspended.