China Escalates Effort To Capture And Punish Outlaw Cryptocurrency Miners

As winter looms, authorities in China are hoping to put the freeze on cryptocurrency mining by individuals who are operating in defiance of the crypto ban. The difficult part is catching them. Some of those who have chosen to ignore the ban and continue mining digital coins have taken various measures to fly under the watchful eye of the Chinese government.

While the gap has narrowed over the past couple of years, mining is China is where it is most prevalent of any territory, accounting for 46 percent of the overall hash rate as of April 2021, according to data tracked by the University of Cambridge and its Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index. The United States sits in a distant second place at 16.8 percent, while everywhere else is in the single digits.

A large population, relatively cheap electricity, and a vast sea of electronics have made it hot spot for mining cryptocurrencies. Back in May of this year, however, China's Vice Premier Liu He announced a crackdown on cryptocurrency mining and trading to "fend off financial risks," which came just days after a ban on banks and payment companies providing cryptocurrency services.

Since the ban, some miners have closed up shop and sold off used hardware, and/or relocated their operations. But some continue to mine in China, attempting to evade detection by masquerading as data researchers and storage facilities, according to Bloomberg and its sources.

As a result, China has ramped up its inspections in September, in an effort to uncover illegal mining at colleges, data centers, and other places. Part of the concern is the power drain from mining, as the winter season comes into view.

One miner told the news outlet that he avoids getting caught by routinely moving to new facilities. And in those facilities, he typically limits himself to a maximum of 100 machines, to make it tougher for authorities to recognize abnormal power surges.

In addition to current efforts, it is said China will begin a monitoring program next month to track computing activities. If illegal mining activity is discovered at a facility, those responsible for maintaining the facilities will have their internet disconnected and face unspecified punishments, sources told the site.

While all this goes on, cryptocurrencies continue to fluctuate in price. Bitcoin, for example, took a hit following the initial ban, but has partially recovered and is currently valued at over $48,000. Same goes for Ethereum, which is up to $3,424, after peaking at around $4,362 earlier this year.