China crackdown shows industrial Bitcoin mining a problem for decentralization

Bitcoin’s reliance on large-scale mining infrastructure and geographic concentration has been thrown into sharp relief by China’s recent mining crackdown. In May, China announced that it would be getting tough on crypto mining and trading as a response to financial risks. The nation’s crackdown on crypto is not new, rather it’s a reiteration of previous standings on the risks of digital currency to economic stability, in response to recent price fluctuations.

For the first time, cryptocurrency miners are being targeted to enforce the existing guidelines. Mining hardware still presents a potential risk, even if mining moves to other locations. This could prove that the Ethereum blockchain’s switch to proof-of-stake (PoS), which can run on consumer-grade equipment, is a more reliable path to decentralization and offers greater resilience against such risks.

Bitcoin (BTC) mining is reliant on large-scale, industrial cryptocurrency mining farms and has been largely concentrated in China, which accounts for 65% of the global hash rate. The manufacture of custom hardware in China has supported this trend, with one in two ASIC miners produced being distributed to Chinese miners. The crackdown has caused significant turmoil in Bitcoin markets.

The Bitcoin network’s hash rate has dropped to a 12-month low, with more provinces directing miners to shut down. Uncertainty about what may happen with confiscated mining hardware has hit the overall network hard. This is a massive loss to what was a multi billion-dollar industry for Chinese miners.

China’s policy position on Bitcoin seeks “financial stability and social order” and is possibly the result of geopolitical interests related to the desire to remove competitors to its own national digital currency, the digital yuan, in addition to its stated goals of lowering carbon emissions and redirecting energy toward other industries. The swift crackdown has shown that Bitcoin’s reliance on industrial-scale mining…

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