China has reportedly brought multiple government agencies together to form a Joint Inspection Unit tasked with finding anyone defying its ban on cryptocurrency mining.
Sina Finance reported Tuesday on Baidu—the popular Chinese social networking site—that the Joint Inspection Unit conducted raids on 20 "state-owned units" associated with 36 public IP addresses connected to recent crypto mining activity.
According to the report, one mining operation in Wenzhou City, Zhejiang Province relied on the resources of a vocational and technical college to power four mining rigs with 32 graphics cards, which are believed to have earned 2.4 ETH over about four months.
Sina Finance claimed this operation grossed "a temporary recruit" at the college roughly $6,753 (43,000 yuan). The math doesn't quite check out, given Ethereum's current price of approximately $3,777, but perhaps the ETH was sold as quickly as it was accrued. Regardless, a big part of the appeal of using the college's resources to power these rigs is the lack of operational costs, which means any ETH mined was pure profit. That's why the Joint Inspection Unit sought out illegal operations like this.
China has offered a few other reasons why it's cracking down on crypto mining as well. Perhaps the foremost is the tried-and-true "because I said so" that parents and authoritarian regimes alike can fall back on whenever their motives are questioned. But the most oft-cited reason why China has banned crypto mining is the practice's environmental impact. The country wants to reduce its carbon emissions, and power-hungry cryptocurrency mining operations make reaching those goals difficult.
Sina Finance echoed those arguments in its report: "Virtual currency 'mining' and speculation violate the new development concept, affect peak carbon neutralization, and disrupt the normal economic and financial order."
China recently found some allies in that fight. Swedish regulators said in November that the country wouldn't be able to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement if crypto miners were allowed to continue operating within the country. India has mulled banning cryptocurrency, too, and it would also take a page from China's book by simultaneously working on its own central bank digital currency (which in China's case has already been used in more than 70 million transactions).
Sweden and India have merely proposed banning cryptocurrencies, however, whereas China has actually done it. Moreover, this isn't even the first time it's gone hunting for illicit miners—similar operations were undertaken in September and October.
Sina Finance reported that the Zhejiang Branch of the National Internet Emergency Center had actually "found that 4,699 IP addresses in Zhejiang had 'mining' behavior, of which 183 IP addresses involved 78 state-owned units," as early as July.
Don't be surprised if similar reports are published in the months ahead. China has made its intention to play—and ultimately end—this game of cat-and-mouse with illegal crypto miners clear. It's only a matter of time before the mice decide to move.