China's unclear stance on Bitcoin has dictated the last few years for local Bitcoin firms and holders, but now the country's central bank seems to be shifting its tone.

At a CNBC-hosted panel at the Boao Forum for Asia in Beijing on Sunday, Li Bo, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC) reportedly said, “we regard Bitcoin and stablecoin as crypto assets ... These are investment alternatives.”

Li was further quoted stating that cryptocurrencies "are not currency per se. And so the main role we see for crypto assets going forward, the main role is investment alternative.”

The comments come after China has maintained a strict stance, including various bans on different cryptocurrency-related activities, for years. In 2017, the country banned initial coin offerings (ICOs). In the same year, it began shutting down local cryptocurrency exchanges. Similarly, China announced plans to curb electricity use for Bitcoin mining 2019. Earlier this year, China's Inner Mongolia region published its plans to stop Bitcoin mining in the region and prevent new operations from being launched.

Li's comments appear far more welcoming to Bitcoin, although he stressed that China is currently "looking into" Bitcoin and considering "regulatory requirements." China would need some form of regulation to prevent "the speculation of such assets to create any serious financial stability risks," he elaborated. PBOC, the country's central bank, will maintain its current stance on cryptocurrencies for the time being.

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