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Why I need Chinese liquor to survive Hong Kong’s whirlwind of crypto conferences

Why I need Chinese liquor to survive Hong Kong’s whirlwind of crypto conferences
People & Culture
The Bitcoin boom is ushering in loads of crypto conferences in Hong Kong. Credit: Shutterstock / Shutterstock AI Generator
Asia Dispatch
  • The conference halls of Hong Kong have come alive with the sound of crypto action.
  • Officials hope to cash in on the crypto boom but cringey comments are soaring, too.
  • Meanwhile, Hong Kong launches regulatory sandbox for stablecoins.

I have started playing a new game that helps me make it through the constant stream of crypto conferences in Hong Kong.

Every time I hear a speaker trot out statements about “real life use cases” or “onboarding the next billion people to web3,” I take a shot of baijiu to remind myself that there are worse things than listening to these empty stock phrases.

The Hong Kong government, it seems, is determined to make me consume the contents of every sorghum distillery from here to the Russian border.

‘We love the music, we love the rappers, right? We love digital art folks.’

—   King Leung, Invest HK

In their latest attempt to become crypto’s Asia hub, officials have been welcoming conferences like they’re going out of style.

Last week, Digital Assets Realised 2024 opened in the city state. The week before, The Economist held a two-day event. WOW Summit kicks off on March 26, followed by Hong Kong Web3 Festival, which gives way to the Digital Economy Summit on April 12.

And in May, Hong Kong will host both Bitcoin Asia 2024 and the Wiki Finance EXPO. Plus next February, Consensus will launch here too.

It sounds exhausting, but Hong Kong’s business boosters and government officials couldn’t be happier. “Asia is the future of crypto,” they are fond of saying.

Cringe. Pour me another one.

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Of course, this is all great for an industry that’s been struggling to find its footing after a grinding bear market and an ever increasing number of crypto fraud cases.

Speaking last week, Kenneth Wong, a general manager at the Hong Kong Tourism Board, said he was hoping events like Consensus would promote the city’s profile and bring in more travellers.

King Leung, Invest HK’s head of fintech, had a lighter take. While the Hong Kong government has been passionate in pushing the whole web free agenda, he also enjoyed the energy of crypto conferences.

“We love the music, we love the rappers, right? We love digital art folks. They can enlighten us and inject a whole level of energy to a community. This is fun,” he said.

Cue more baijiu.

The fight for more conferences and events isn’t limited to crypto. Post-Covid, playing host to events has become something of a status symbol for Asian nations.

Thailand vs Singapore

The upshot, so to speak, has become unintentionally hilarious.

Thailand and Singapore engaged in a diplomatic spat after the former’s prime minister complained that Singapore paid Taylor Swift to not play in any other Southeast Asian countries.

Singaporean prime minister Lee Hsien Loong defended the deal and said he didn’t see it as “unfriendly” to his neighbours.

The Hong Kong government seethed for weeks that soccer superstar Lionel Messi didn’t play at a friendly match organised by Tatler Asia and partly financed by the government (this dominated headlines in Hong Kong and China for way too long, but nobody else cared all that much).

ApeFest stage Hong Kong

Not all conferences have generated the feel-good vibes officials want.

Who can forget the “laser eyes” incident at ApeFest in November? Several attendees reported eye pain after the event due to the lighting used, with at least two having to go to hospital.

Or that Vitalik Buterin didn’t attend ETH Hong Kong last year either (though he will be making an appearance at ETHTaipei later this month)?

No matter. The show, it appears, must go on. And I must refill my glass.

More Asia News: Hong Kong Monetary Authority launches stablecoin sandbox

Hong Kong is moving forward with its plans to implement a regulatory regime for stablecoin issuers with the launch of a sandbox earlier this week.

The plans for stablecoin regulation have been on the table since last year and are part of a series of new regulations targeting the crypto industry.

Last month, applications also closed for obtaining a digital asset trading platform licence and new rules for over-the-counter trading are also in the works.

Quick Bites

  • Thailand has reversed its stance on the US spot Bitcoin ETF. It will now allow money managers to launch private funds for institutional investors and ultra high net worth individuals.
  • Do Kwon will be extradited to South Korea, not the US, a court in Montenegro ruled last week.
  • But investors in South Korea say they want him to be tried in the US due to fears that the lack of firm penalties for crypto crimes may lead to a lighter sentence in the East Asian country.
  • Will China and Russia’s stablecoin plans force the US to start developing its own blockchain payments system? BRICs countries are exploring alternatives to the dollar for international payments, which some analysts have described as geopolitical risk to the US.

Callan Quinn is DL News’ correspondent in Hong Kong. Have a tip? Contact her at