After losing more than 60 percent of its value in the past seven weeks, bitcoin may be in for more drama from the latest move in China.
Chinese officials are gearing up to block all websites related to cryptocurrency trading in an attempt to stamp out the local market completely, according to the South China Morning Post, which cited a financial publication affiliated with the People’s Bank of China.
“To prevent financial risks, China will step up measures to remove any onshore or offshore platforms related to virtual currency trading,” the central bank-affiliated Financial News wrote in an article published by published Sunday night.
Meanwhile, the recent bitcoin bloodbath kept raging: On Monday, the cybercurrency fell over 10 percent by midday in New York to trade just above $7,000. It had skyrocketed to astonishing heights last year, hitting a high of over $19,000 in December.
China mines about three-quarters of the world’s supply of bitcoin, as producers take advantage of low electricity prices to fuel the powerful computers that make the complicated calculations required to produce them.
But Chinese officials have been moving against the digital currency for months, banning fundraising through digital coin launches (technically known as Initial Coin Offerings, or ICOs) and ordering local exchanges to halt operations. Those moves have prompted over a dozen homegrown players to relocate from mainland China to Japan or Hong Kong.
Following the announcement of the latest change, the South China Morning Post said advertisements for cryptocurrencies had stopped appearing on China’s top search engine, Baidu, and on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.
Nouriel Roubini, the New York University economist and chairman of Roubini Macro Associates, on Friday declared bitcoin to be the “mother of all bubbles” and said in an interview on Bloomberg Television that the digital coin is finally crashing.