Facebook Libra 'delusional', says Chinese former mayor

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Facebook has come in for some robust criticism since the announcement of its Libra digital currency.

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As our very own Peter Lee put it: “The question is not whether the world is ready to be trusted by Libra, but whether Libra and Facebook are fit to be trusted by anybody.”

China is probably low on the list of places Facebook might have hoped to find vocal support. And so it has proved. Huang Qifan, the former mayor of Chongqing, used his keynote address at Shanghai’s Bund Summit on October 28 to call it “delusional”.

“If commercial companies can issue various currencies, this world will be in chaos,” he says. “That is equivalent to returning to the primitive society.”

He thinks bitcoin is delusional too, which is a striking take since China is responsible for about 70% of its mining worldwide.

Delusional

Huang is in an interesting position to observe the delusional. He worked with Bo Xilai to drive Chongqing’s extraordinary economic boom in the middle of this decade.

Bo, however, went to jail on corruption charges and is serving life in Qincheng prison.

Huang has fared considerably better. He stepped down as mayor of Chongqing in 2016 and became vice-chair of the National People’s Congress financial and economic affairs committee.

Huang believes digital currencies should only be issued by sovereigns through the government and central bank.

In the same speech, he said that the People’s Bank of China had been studying its own digital currency – he called it DCEP – for five or six years and will be the first central bank in the world to launch one.