Extract: In a speech late last month, Chinese leader Xi Jinping declared blockchain “an important breakthrough,” and promised that China would “seize the opportunity.” He detailed the ways the Chinese government would support blockchain research, development, and standardization. The significance shouldn’t be underestimated. Xi is the first major world leader to issue such a strong endorsement of the much-hyped, and much-maligned, distributed ledger technology. His words are already having a major impact. Like the internet, blockchain is a powerful tool that can nurture freedom and competitive innovation, or reinforce concentrations of power. Those who favor the former vision cannot take it for granted. The United States’ leaders are doing just that.