Bloomberg today reported that fears over looming power shortages have prompted the Chinese government to hunt down crypto miners who are defying its ban on the practice.
The report cited anonymous sources who claimed government inspections "targeting illegal mining activities in colleges, research institutions and data centers" have become increasingly frequent in multiple provinces over the last few months.
China's decision to ban cryptocurrency mining spread from province to province throughout the summer. The government also restricted financial institutions from handling crypto-related transactions over concerns about their societal impact.
The crypto mining ban was ostensibly motivated by China's goal of being carbon neutral within the next five years. But according to Bloomberg's report, the government also fears the increased energy usage could lead to power shortages.
There are still mining operators within China—Bloomberg cited one that evaded detection by constantly moving 100 rigs to different warehouses—but the loss of most official miners greatly reduced the computational power devoted to Bitcoin.
Cryptocurrency has largely bounced back quicker than many expected, however, and China's mining operations have started to move their equipment to other countries. These inspections are possibly just sweeping up the few operations still defying the ban.