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Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin on US-China, Taiwan and Crypto

In an interview with NFX’s Morgan Beller, Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin suggests that the conflict between the US and China could see Vietnam benefit more while also providing an opportunity for cryptocurrency to flourish. 

Based on his vast knowledge of the Asian region, Buterin shared that ensuring the well-being of the Taiwanese people should be the paramount objective when asked on what he thinks the US-China conflict means for Taiwan and what to expect.

“My general kind of moral view of course is the kind of focus of those kinds of questions should be the welfare of people in Taiwan and not the kind of bigger power game between forces that have whatever security or political interests,” Buterin said in the podcast

“Taiwan itself has been doing really well. I’ve visited many times. It’s got a nice democratic political culture…nice crypto community as well,” he added noting that he had to touch on the crypto aspect of Taiwan because it is his window through which he watches “every single part of the world.”

“I definitely very much wish that Taiwan does well. In terms of how that will intersect with all of these kinds of geopolitical things, I don’t know,” he said. “This is one of those areas that are very hard to predict. I have this kind of optimistic feeling that nothing very terrible is going to happen there just because I feel like people are – as the world becomes more interconnected  – there is just going to be too many people that realise that any kind of serious conflict is just a negative sum game for everyone. We’ll see. Fingers crossed.”

On how China is either overestimated or underestimated, Buterin thinks that people in the US overestimate the extent to which “they can accomplish what they think their objectives are by going after Chinese tech companies” specifically. 

“Basically, if your strategy for handling the scary things that you’re worried about in a Chinese tech company is to go after China, then you’re going to be very vulnerable to any non-Chinese tech company, or anyone from any other part of the world that’s trying to do exactly the same thing,” he said adding that it is essentially true that the US-China conflict has been good for crypto like it’s been for Vietnam.

Using the analogy of a high school puzzle, he explains how a conflict like theirs often ends up being good for the third party since the main opposing parties see themselves as threats. 

“One fun political example is that as of 2021, Vietnam has won two wars (against) the United States. The first war was in the 1960s and 70s and the second example is that Vietnam is the winner of the (trade) war between the US and China.”

He added the crypto angle to it: “Crypto is definitely one of those things that’s well-positioned to be C (as in a logical case of three parties A, B and C in a gunfight) that’s the winner of a great conflict between whether it’s one state versus another state or states versus corporations.”


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