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Bitcoin is a 'Chinese financial weapon', says tech billionaire Peter Thiel

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 3 days ago Laurence Dodds
Peter Thiel wearing a suit and tie:  Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel visits © Lamparski/Getty  Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Peter Thiel visits

Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel has suggested that Bitcoin should be treated as a "Chinese financial weapon", describing the cryptocurrency as a threat to US global power.

The Silicon Valley mega-investor said the US should ask "tougher questions" about the rise of the digital, which he warned could undermine the US dollar's status as the world's reserve currency.

The remarks, made during a panel discussion at the Richard Nixon Foundation with Donald Trump's former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, cut against Mr Thiel's continued support for Bitcoin and his substantial investments in cryptocurrency start-ups. 

However, they built on a history of aggressive statements about China and US companies that work there, such as his 2019 suggestion that Google had been "thoroughly infiltrated" by Chinese intelligence agents, for which he did not give evidence.

Mr Thiel said: "I think the Euro, you can think of as in part a Chinese weapon against the dollar. The last decade has not worked out that way, but China would have liked to see the two reserve currencies like the Euro. 

"Even though I’m sort of a pro-crypto, pro-Bitcoin maximalist person, I do wonder whether at this point Bitcoin should also be thought in part of as a Chinese financial weapon against the US.

"It threatens fiat money, but it especially threatens the US dollar, and China wants to do things to weaken it. So China is long Bitcoin, and perhaps from a geopolitical perspective, the US should be asking some tougher questions about exactly how that works."

The early Facebook investor was responding to a question about China's project to create a national cryptocurrency,  which he dismissed as "just some sort of a totalitarian measuring device". 

Mr Thiel also urged the US government to put "a lot of pressure" on Apple for its extensive supply chain in China, which he described as "a real problem".

Silicon Valley has been split on the question of how to engage with the People's Republic as US politicians turn firmly towards scepticism. Mr Thiel, previously an advocate of Chinese prosperity, has been a leading hawk , at times appearing to have the ear of President Trump.

One of his proteges, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg, has also pivoted from attempting to enter China's growing tech markets to telling US politicians that they should look favourably on his own attempt at a cryptocurrency, Libra, for fear of competition from China. 

In 2017, Mr Thiel's data-mining firm Palantir agreed to pay $1.7m (1.2m) to settle a lawsuit by the US government alleging that it had discriminated against East Asian job applicants. Palantir made no admission of liability.

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