Alibaba (NYSE BABA) announced on Tuesday the appointment of Joseph Tsai as Chairman.

The company is reorganizing itself, separating technology services and retail divisions, as part of this leadership shuffle. Eddie Yongming Wu was named as the new CEO.

Tsai, a Web3 investor and vocal crypto proponent, is likely to be reading tea leaves for crypto investors bullish on China’s narrative.

Alibaba may be preparing to embrace Web3 and crypto in China, if the day ever comes.

Joe Tsai likes crypto

Tsai first revealed his interest for the Web3 space with a tweet in December 2021: “I Like Crypto.”

Tsai did not elaborate on what he was saying at the time. However, in the following year, he became an active investor.

The South China Morning Post in January 2023 reported that Blue Pool Capital, Tsai’s family office, had been a minor shareholder in FTX and participated in two of the company’s fundraising rounds. The fact that this was not known at the time, and only revealed through court documents.

Tsai was also involved with better-known investments such as Polygon’s February 2022 funding round, Fast Break Labs’ fund raise, and NFT Platform Artifact Labs’ May 2023 round. (This platform is a spinoff from the South China Morning Post , where he serves as chairman ).

Tsai owns Brooklyn Nets. Two of their key players, Kevin Durant, and Spencer Dinwiddie have gotten involved with crypto. Durant has signed a 2021 deal to promote Coinbase, as well as a 2-year deal with Dapper Labs. Dinwiddie tokenized his contract and spoke at CoinDesk Consensus Conference.

What about China?

It remains to be confirmed whether China will embrace crypto.

Hong Kong, an Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the country that currently enjoys some degree of autonomy, has published a list with crypto rules for licensed trade of digital assets on the territory.

Critics claim that these rules restrict the market too much, and give a free pass to most serious institutions.

Hong Kong’s current framework is not attractive. Leo Weese is the co-founder of and president of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong. He told CoinDesk that there are few users, no banking partnerships, and very limited products.

Hong Kong Monetary Authority had to exert pressure to some of the biggest names in finance, to attract crypto clients.

The rest of the country embraces digital assets on blockchain, as long as they do not have crypto.

Alibaba’s Alipay will restrict the sale of non-fungible tokens in 2021 until they have been held by users for 180 days.

Beijing defines Web3 by itself as an enhanced internet enhanced with artificial intelligence, Blockchain, faster computing chips and more resilient network. The third version of the web is not synonymous with cryptocurrency.

Alibaba may know something that we do not and want an executive team prepared for crypto in China when the time comes. It could be that the company is moving executives around and placing one of its founding members at the top.

Parikshit Miishra is the editor.