Every time Beijing announces a crackdown on their industry, the running joke among the crypterati is that China has already banned cryptocurrency 18 times. Chinese government agencies have issued a string of increasingly restrictive but never conclusive legal prohibitions of various aspects of crypto since 2013; all the while, China’s crypto industry has thrived. Turns out the 19th time might be the charm.

On September 24, China’s central bank and its National Development and Reform Commission issued two documents. One outlawed cryptocurrency mining following an earlier crackdown in May, and the other declared all cryptocurrency transactions illegal and all companies providing cryptocurrency trading services to Chinese citizens as engaged in illicit financial activity. Some of the usual nonplussed aplomb was deployed on crypto Twitter, but the general reaction to the ban is that this time China is serious.

“The ban is sweeping, absolute, comprehensive. It is not focused on some partial aspect,” says Jonathan Padilla, a cofounder and deputy director of Stanford University’s Future of Digital Currency Initiative, who has conducted field research at China’s central bank. “And it seems that top-level government officials are taking this on.” The authorities signing off on at least one of the two documents include the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People’s Court, and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate—suggesting that aggressive enforcement is likely.

Several exchanges, wallets, and other cryptocurrency
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