Patrick Li’s Bitcoin mine used to be filled with the persistent hum of rows and rows of computers, all busy around the clock solving the complicated mathematical puzzles needed to keep the world’s most popular cryptocurrency operational.
Li, 39, had set up shop in the northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, which once welcomed businesses like his to use the abundance of locally produced coal-powered electricity. But last year, China’s central government admonished Inner Mongolia for missing its electricity consumption reduction targets. As a result, in March, the region decided to show certain energy-intensive industries the door, including cryptocurrency mines like Li’s.
“It was all of a sudden,” Li says. “We have no choice but to look for a new location.”
The policy reversal has China’s Bitcoin mining community wondering whether its time in the country is running out. Will other regions and provinces follow suit now that President Xi Jinping has made reaching carbon neutrality a major government goal? For now, Bitcoin’s fate is in limbo. Li Bo, vice president of China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, told reporters in April that policymakers are currently deciding on what regulations to apply to the virtual currency.