Cheap electricity made China the king of bitcoin mining. The government’s stepping in.

Bitmain’s Ordos facility mines bitcoin and litecoin, another digital currency. Photo credit: Tech in Asia.

Outside the cicada-like whir of machines, the bitcoin mine is a desolate concrete lot full of plain-looking warehouses. We’re in Ordos, the famed ghost town of Inner Mongolia province where local farmers became rich off coal reserves hidden beneath the earth’s surface. Now, another kind of fortune is being mined.

Inside the warehouses, miniature block-like computers are hard at...

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