“Virtual currency does not have the same legal status as legal currency,” it said, naming cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum and USDT. The notice said it was illegal for any overseas exchange to provide trading services to investors in China via the Internet, reiterating regulators’ previous position. Bitcoin shares dropped as much as 5 percent on Friday following the announcement.
Another notice released on Friday by China’s National Development and Reform Commission banned all crypto mining as part of China’s pledges to reduce carbon emissions to meet climate change goals. Bans were previously ordered by individual provinces.
The measures mark Chinese regulators’ latest campaign against crypto trading, which they view as volatile and outside of the government’s control. Regulators accused such currencies of “breeding illegal and criminal activity,” like fraud and money laundering, as well as risking financial instability.
China has issued similarly harshly worded statements and restrictions on the industry. In 2017, out of concerns about capital flight, authorities shut down local cryptocurrency exchanges and banned initial coin offerings.
In May, regulators again vowed to crack down on the industry, ordering banks and payment companies to do more to stop cryptocurrency-related transactions. Yet cryptocurrency trading continued to be popular among Chinese residents who buy and trade through exchanges hosted outside of China.
While some Internet users mocked China’s “100th ban” on trading cryptocurrencies, some in China on Friday were despondent. “All [crypto] believers die in the hands of the party,” one wrote on Weibo, referring to China’s ruling Communist Party.
While Bitcoin and Ethereum prices shuddered, declining more than 5 percent and 8 percent, respectively, U.S. markets seemed to shrug off the news. Investors were more focused on the prevailing uncertainty surrounding China’s Evergrande: the world’s most debt-laden property company, with obligations that surpass $300 billion.
On Thursday, a key payment deadline came and went, edging the real estate giant closer to default that many worry could ripple and affect the global economy.
After a week of wild swings as investors fretted over Evergrande, the Dow and the S&P 500 index were both weakly positive. The tech-heavy Nasdaq was down 0.4 percent, or 60 points on Friday morning Eastern time.
Pei Lin Wu and Alicia Pei in Taipei and Taylor Telford in Washington contributed to this report.