China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) has removed Bitcoin mining from its list of industrial activities to be reduced or eliminated, reversing the action it took in April that resulted in a flurry of coverage in the mainstream media. In line with its sudden mass adoption of blockchain technology, the NDRC has now decided that Bitcoin is not an industry that needs to be curtailed, leading some to suggest that the country might be on the verge of legalizing the process.
Mainstream Media Gets it Wrong…Again
The NDRC initially included Bitcoin mining in its 2019 Catalog for Guiding Industry Restructuring which contained 450 activities it wished to abolish “within a fixed deadline” because they “did not adhere to relevant laws and regulations, were unsafe, wasted resources, or polluted the environment.” This caused many mainstream outlets to gleefully scream that China was banning Bitcoin, while those in the community simply rolled their eyes in weary resignation, having heard the same rhetoric time and time again. Sure enough, seven months later, with president Xi Jinping having personally endorsed blockchain, crypto mining of all kinds has been removed from the 2020 list, although of course this has not been reported.
Fuss Over Nothing
At the time of Bitcoin’s addition to the list in in April, respected individuals such as Boxmining stated that the actual implementation of any ban would be a case of miners being seen to cooperate with the government and selling some old mining gear before continuing exactly as they were before. Clearly not even this action was required by miners, as there has been seldom a mention of such activities since then, suggesting that it was never anything more than some standard China FUD. News of the removal of Bitcoin mining from the list was met with optimism by almost everyone in the community, with some even claiming it was the first step towards legalization in the country:
Miners Raise Your Hands！🙌
First step of LEGALIZING Chinese mining has been
On Nov. 6th, The official China Guiding Catalogue of 2019 industrial structure adjustment removes the “virtual currency mining” which used to be defined as “industry that needs to be eliminated” pic.twitter.com/qB5pWhdo5a
— Crypto Even (@Crypto_Even) November 6, 2019
The suggestion that China is about to back Bitcoin mining might be a stretch too far, but the fact that they have publicly stated their neutrality towards mining again can at least be taken as a good sign.