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Province in China encourages residents to inform on crypto miners

Chinese authorities have ordered the shutdown of cryptocurrency mines amid concern over emissions. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI
Chinese authorities have ordered the shutdown of cryptocurrency mines amid concern over emissions. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

May 20 (UPI) -- A Chinese province that has approved new coal-fired power plants is cracking down on cryptocurrency miners as concern rises over emissions.

The Inner Mongolia Development and Reform Commission said that it would create a new hotline for residents to inform on people suspected of crypto mining.

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Inner Mongolia in February vowed to shut down cryptocurrency mines to reduce energy consumption, but mining resumes secretly, the Financial Times reported Thursday.

The whistleblower initiative comes at a time when Xi Jinping is seeking to reduce carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve "carbon neutrality" by 2060, the report said.

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Air pollution remains a serious problem in China. According to a study published in scientific journal Nature Communications in April, bitcoin mining would generate 130 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2024.

China outlawed bitcoin exchanges in the country in 2017, but the policy has not deterred miners.

A bitcoin mining map issued by the University of Cambridge in 2020 showed that China accounted for 65% of the world's hash power, or computer power, used to run algorithms to mine bitcoin.

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Provincial policies have forced miners to relocate to other parts of the country. Crypto miners who were active in Inner Mongolia moved their servers to Sichuan Province, where energy is sourced from hydropower, according to the FT.

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Inner Mongolia's new measure comes after central government agencies said financial institutions and payment companies are not allowed to transact in cryptocurrency, CNN reported Wednesday.

"Prices of cryptocurrency have skyrocketed and plummeted recently, and speculative trading has bounced back. This seriously harms the safety of people's property and disturbs normal economic and financial orders," regulators under the People's Bank of China and the China Insurance and Banking Commission said Tuesday.

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China could also be cracking down on bitcoin to strengthen its state-supported digital yuan initiative, according to the report.

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