China's crypto crackdown is shaking markets, but it's been trying to rein in the sector for years. Here's a timeline of Beijing's regulatory sweep.

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China's crypto crackdown is shaking markets, but it's been trying to rein in the sector for years. Here's a timeline of Beijing's regulatory sweep.
China is increasingly cracking down on bitcoin. Florence Lo/Illustration/Reuters

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It was deja vu all over again for some cryptocurrency investors on Friday after China said it would ban all cryptocurrency-related transactions.

The People's Bank of China said in a statement that virtual currencies "are not legal and should not and cannot be used as currency in the market." Bitcoin fell as much as 8% on Friday following the news, while several other crypto coins like ether, litecoin, and Solana fell nearly 10%.

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But China's hostile stance to bitcoin has been well known, as the country implemented its first "ban" in 2013. Since then, China has been attempting to rein in the booming digital asset sector with various restrictions targeting different areas of the market.

Today's moves were the most forceful so far against cryptocurrencies. Still, despite all of the bans, Beijing has stopped short of making it illegal for Chinese citizens to hold onto their digital cryptocurrencies.

Here's a timeline of all the regulatory actions China has imposed on cryptocurrencies since 2013, many of which occurred amid a volatile rally in bitcoin and other altcoins.

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December 2013: China bans banks from handling bitcoin transactions

The People's Bank of China said in a statement that bitcoins are a "virtual good" that has no legal status and shouldn't be used as a currency. This was effectively the first ban towards crypto applied to major financial institutions within the country. Many believe the ban was implemented due to a surge in interest among Chinese citizens amid a strong bull run in bitcoin.

September 2017: China orders local cryptocurrency exchanges to cease operations

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The country banned initial coin offerings and ordered all domestic cryptocurrency exchanges to end operations within the country. The move came amid a strong bull market for bitcoin which eventually topped out near $20,000 in late 2017.

May 2021: China bans various financial institutions and payment firms from offering crypto services

The country reiterated its prior bans from 2013 and 2017, citing the dangers of speculative trading in the crypto coins, and cemented the ban for various payment platforms and business activities related to cryptocurrencies.

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June 2021: China ramps up crypto mining crackdown

The country set its eyes on banning cryptocurrency mining with various regulations towards the sector. Following the new rules, bitcoin mining immediately moved overseas to more crypto friendly countries, including the US. China cited environmental concerns and excessive energy consumption as reasons for its new restrictions.

September 2021: China bans cryptocurrency-related transactions

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The country made cryptocurrency-related transactions illegal and forbid overseas exchanges from serving its citizens. Coins such as bitcoin and ether "are not legal and should not and cannot be used as currency in the market," the People's Bank of China said in a statement. The ban effectively ends trading for cryptocurrencies, though it is currently not illegal for its citizens to hold the asset.

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