China considers an end to Bitcoin mining


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China is mulling putting an end to cryptocurrency mining in its territory, the latest update to a list maintained by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is said to indicate.

On the other hand, the country may simply intend to “reboot” – i.e., splinter the industry, like it had once done successfully with the internet itself, some experts quoted by Reuters have suggested.

A notice published by the agency on Monday concerning Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency seems to suggest they are all now for the chop – guilty of wasting too many natural resources (read: electricity), and thus polluting the environment.

NDRC is China's agency with broad powers over the future direction of the economy in the world's most populous state – hence often seeking to guide it in strategic terms. Therefore it should be no surprise that updates to the list singling out undesirable economic activities come once in a few years – nor that some of the industries called out carry on for a long time. The latest NDRC proposal will have a public debate, and currently carries with it no regulatory power.

Nevertheless, the inclusion in the list of cryptocurrency mining operations is a good indication that China wants to exert tighter control over the industry – and that changes may be coming to it that are almost sure to reverberate far and wide.

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This is true given China's current prominence in the crypto mining space.

“Half of the network is probably located in China, Alex de Vries”, a consultant with Amsterdam-based blockchain and cryptocurrency mining researcher PwC told Reuters.

The move to ban crypto-mining, if carried out, would save a lot of electricity in China, risk putting a lot of highly valued blockchain hardware companies – the likes of Bitmain Technologies and Canaan – out of business, and likely disrupt the global cryptocurrency scene beyond recognition.

Meanwhile, the promise of a decentralized digital currency immune to government interference or manipulation lives on – Bitcoin is still alive, rallying just last week to a high value above $5,000 since the late 2017 “bubble” of $20,000 – and the scene has since spawned other major players like Ethereum and Ripple XRP.

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Didi Rankovic

Didi Rankovich is an experienced online journalist, editor, and translator, with a career spanning over ten years writing for major a English-language website in Serbia, and previously working as translator for international organizations and peacekeepers in the Balkans. Rankovich is passionate about free and open source tech and is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net, focusing on lead stories. [email protected]