China's Sichuan Province halted more than two dozen crypto mining operations over the weekend, becoming the latest Chinese crypto hub to clamp down on bitcoin mining. The crackdown on crypto mining has intensified in China in recent months as Beijing seeks to control energy consumption as well as financial risk.
A government order issued by two local authorities in the southwestern Chinese province ordered 26 crypto mining companies to shut down by Sunday. As a result, bitcoin's price plunged to a two-week low on Monday, according to CNBC.
Sichuan's move followed after the autonomous Inner Mongolia region and the northwestern Qinghai province banned energy-sucking crypto mining activities. Adding up the bans, China has halted about 90% of the country's crypto mining capacity, according to Global Times.
China is the biggest country for bitcoin mining, largely due to its inexpensive electricity. Sichuan, in particular, is known for abundant and cheap hydropower. Bitcoin mining in China accounts for more than 75% of the global bitcoin hashing power, according to a paper published in Nature Communications in April.
Not all of the energy is clean, though. The Nature Communication study estimated that 40% of the energy used for bitcoin in China comes from coal plants. Domestically, crypto mining ranks among the top 10 industry sectors in China in terms of emissions output.
The nationwide bans came down at a time when China, a key signatory of the Paris Agreement, seeks to reduce carbon emission. Authors of the Nature Communications paper warned that the intensive crypto mining in China could undermine the country's emission-reduction efforts without policy interventions.
The widespread crackdown on crypto mining is also part of the central government's effort to strengthen financial risk control. In late May, the Financial Stability and Development Committee, a Chinese financial regulatory body under the State Council, China's cabinet, said that China's financial system must crack down on bitcoin mining and trading, "resolutely preventing the transfer of individual risks to society."