Bitcoin should be treated as Chinese financial weapon, PayPal’s Peter Thiel warns

Tech billionaire Peter Thiel this week issued a chilling warning about bitcoin as its value continues to soar.

The PayPal founder said that the cryptocurrency should be treated as a “Chinese financial weapon” that threatens the global power of the US.

Mr Thiel called for tighter restrictions on bitcoin, which he said could undermine the status of the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

The comments represent a change of heart for the mega investor, who has previously described bitcoin as the “digital equivalent on gold”.

“I do wonder whether at this point, bitcoin should also be thought [of] in part as a Chinese financial weapon against the US,” Mr Thiel said during an appearance at a virtual event on Tuesday.

“It threatens fiat money, but it especially threatens the US dollar,” he told members of the Richard Nixon Foundation.

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Mr Thiel added: “[If] China’s long bitcoin, perhaps from a geopolitical perspective, the US should be asking some tougher questions about exactly how that works.”

The Silicon Valley mogul, who is worth an estimated $6 billion, has made substantial investments in cryptocurrency start-ups.

He conceded that he remained “sort of” pro-crypto and a “pro-bitcoin maximalist”.

Mr Thiel was joined on the panel by Donald Trump’s former secretary of state Mike Pompeo and former National Security adviser Robert O’Brien.

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Talk centres on US-China relations with regards to tech companies

The conversation focused heavily on US-China relations, aggressively criticising the big US tech companies who work there.

Mr Thiel claimed that he had spoken to “insiders” at Google about the use of its artificial intelligence in China’s Xinjiang region.

The US has accused China of detaining ethnic Uighurs in internment camps there. Some have said that this amounts to genocide.

After Mr Thiel asked Google staff whether their technology was involved, the answer, he said, was: “Well, we don’t really know – and don’t ask any questions.”

Thiel continued: “You have this almost magical thinking that by pretending that everything is fine, that’s how you engage and have a conversation.”

Former tech boss speaks out against Silicon Valley

The 53-year-old has been an outspoken critic against Silicon Valley since he left the tech industry in 2018.

He has repeatedly claimed that companies like Facebook and Google pose threats to the US given their ties to China.

Bitcoin’s value has continued to soar to all-time highs in recent weeks, rising above $US50,000 ($A65,000) for the first time last month.

The virtual currency’s value has been buoyed by big investments from Tesla as well as economic uncertainty driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This story was originally published on The Sun and is republished with permission

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