Anti-Lockdown Protests in China Sidestep Censorship with NFTs

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Images taken at protests across China against the country’s zero-Covid policy are turning up on OpenSea, the world’s largest non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace. There are currently two NFT collections on OpenSea based on the protests that are making headlines around the world.

The first collection is called “Silent Speech,” and it consists of 135 photos on the Polgyon blockchain. The images depict protesters, graffiti, signage, and social media screenshots related to the protests. The seven-day auction began on Sunday, November 27th. The starting bid for an NFT is .01 ETH (or about $11 at the time of writing).

The other collection is titled “Blank Paper Movement,” and consists of 24 artistically rendered images featuring protesters holding blank sheets of paper. The blank paper is being used by protesters around the country to symbolize the suppression of free speech by the government. The Ethereum-based collection has a floor price of 10 Ether or around $11,500.

The unrest in China began on November 14th, 2022, in Guangzhou and intensified on November 24th when a fire killed 10 people in a high-rise building in Urumqi. This weekend, massive protests erupted on the streets of major Chinese cities, including Urumqi, Shanghai, Beijing, Wuhan, and Guangzhou. And according to reports, students at nearly 80 universities across 15 difference provinces have engaged in public protests.

The extreme lockdown measures like welding or wiring doors shut that have been taken by the Chinese government have frustrated citizens, and some believe the victims of the fire in Urunqi may not been able to escape because of these restrictions.

NFT Utilities Continue to Evolve

Profile Pic (PFP) NFTs like CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club caught the world by surprise when they skyrocketed in value in 2021. But for many, early PFP NFTs lacked utility and critics claimed they were nothing more than overpriced JPEGs.

Since then, we’ve seen NFTs and blockchain technology applied to a myriad of sectors and industries, and what can be done with NFTs continues to evolve. At Rarity Sniper, we’ve covered several stories about unusual NFT projects that have added utilities to their digital tokens. Here are two of the most interesting headlines.

First, the British global hospitality company IHG Hotels & Resorts recently dropped ten limited-edition NFTs tied to IRL perks and rewards. The NFTs were designed by the British artist Claire Luxton, and holders will receive a piece or physical artwork along with the digital assets.

Next, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) just launched a new travel-to-earn NFT experience for tourists. Through the “Amazing Thailand NFT” program, tourists to the country will be rewarded for visiting the country’s top destinations. As they travel throughout Thailand scanning QR codes at specific locations, different benefits and discounts will be unlocked.

Creativity in Web3 is on the rise, and brands, countries, and even protesters are pushing the limits of what can be done with NFTs. The protest-themed NFTs on OpenSea offer yet another utility for NFTs: preserving historic moments on the blockchain. We wouldn’t be surprised if this use-case for NFTs becomes more common in the future.