China allegedly discovered a number of cryptocurrency mining operations stealing power from universities, state-owned companies and government agencies.
Bloomberg reported that numerous Chinese media outlets and government organizations described the crackdown on these electricity thieves. Miners in the Jiangsu province were said to have used 260,000-kilowatt hours of electricity each day, for example, even though just one-fifth of the 4,500 IP addresses associated with illicit mining were traced back to public institutions.
The report also cited a statement from the Zhejiang province's government claiming that 183 mining operations were using public resources. That statement included pictures of mining rigs seized from these operations, too, just in case watching Malaysian police destroy a bunch of similar equipment wasn't satisfying enough.
It's not uncommon for cryptocurrency miners to steal power. Electricity is expensive, and if mining operators can remove those recurring costs, they can improve their bottom lines. However, they'll still need to buy dedicated mining hardware or seemingly every graphics card on the market. But stealing power from China's public institutions after the country has banned mining is particularly ballsy.
China's ban started in a handful of provinces before spreading throughout the country over the summer. We'd already seen reports that provincial governments were hunting down mining operations defying the ban when the People's Bank of China declared that all cryptocurrency-related transactions were illegal in September. Now those efforts have been confirmed and shown to be successful.
Cryptocurrency mining's energy usage remains the primary reason cited for this crackdown. Zhejiang's statement claimed the miners were interfering with its plan to become carbon neutral, and Bloomberg reported that a coal shortage has interfered with much of China's power supply in recent months. Meanwhile, the Chinese government's own digital currency, e-CNY, has expanded its reach at the same time.