China expanded its escalating crackdown on cryptocurrencies on Friday when its central bank declared that all activities related to digital coins are “illegal” and must be banned.
In a statement the People’s Bank of China said the latest notice was to further prevent the risks surrounding crypto trading and to maintain national security and social stability.
Curiously, the statement is dated September 15, but only hit the central bank’s website at 5pm on Friday.
Incidentally, the news was already priced in once, with rumors of PBOC crackdown sending the price of bitcoin lower in mid-September when Bitcoin traded just below $50,000.
Naming bitcoin, ether and tether as examples, the central bank said cryptocurrencies are issued by nonmonetary authorities, use encryption technologies and exist in digital form and should not be circulated and used in the market as currencies. The PBOC specifically targeted overseas cryptocurrency exchanges declaring that it was illegal for them to provide online services to residents in China.
The statement is the culmination of years of failed crackdowns on cryptos and is nothing new for the authoritarian state. In 2013, the country ordered third-party payment providers to stop using bitcoin. Chinese authorities put a stop to token sales in 2017 and banned crypto exchanges from operating within its borders in 2019 but individuals in the country continued to find ways to trade bitcoin and other digital currencies via over-the-counter or peer-to-peer transactions. More recently, the country banned all crypto mining, which however only prompted miners to shift offshore.
In May this year, a powerful Chinese superregulator pledged to crack down on bitcoin trading and energy-intensive mining, helping to send the price of bitcoin tumbling, only to rebound again. Financial regulators in the country have also gotten tougher on banks and payment companies and in June ordered them to take a more active role in weeding out crypto-related transactions.