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  • - [Narrator] This is a Bitcoin mine hidden deep

  • in the mountains of Sichuan in China.

  • (speaking in foreign language)

  • - [Narrator] And its rival

  • is on the other side of the planet

  • at a former factory

  • that used to make denim for Levi's.

  • - You see the transformers lined up on the outside.

  • We have a lot of megawatts.

  • - These two miners make money

  • by providing the massive computing power

  • that's required to process

  • and record a high volume of cryptocurrency transactions.

  • Business was soaring as Bitcoin hit new highs in early 2021.

  • - It's hard to sleep.

  • You go to bed at night and you wake up and you look

  • and you go, "Holy crap, it's still up.

  • - [Narrator] Last year, China controlled 70%

  • of the global processing power

  • that runs the Bitcoin network

  • and that means the majority

  • of the cryptocurrency's global transactions

  • are routed through these computers in China

  • and recorded by miners here.

  • So a group of US miners is raising hundreds

  • of millions of dollars to win a larger share

  • of Bitcoin's processing power.

  • - When capitalism in the States decides it wants

  • to get into market, get into an industry,

  • it moves heavy capital there.

  • - [Narrator] They say their work is also meant

  • to protect Bitcoin.

  • Industry insiders say the Chinese government

  • has already cracked down on some crypto entrepreneurs

  • and could potentially disrupt global trading

  • by asking miners in China

  • to block certain users from making transactions.

  • - It's better for cryptocurrency to be spread

  • around the globe.

  • So that Bitcoin cannot be manipulated

  • by any single government.

  • - I think there will be competition.

  • There's more and more human resources,

  • technology resources that we're putting

  • into this particular new segment.

  • - [Narrator] The battle over Bitcoin mining

  • will decide who controls the infrastructure

  • that powers the cryptocurrency.

  • (speaking in foreign language)

  • - [Narrator] Yulong Liu started mining

  • during the previous Bitcoin rally in 2017.

  • And this is one of the sites he works with

  • that has mined about 8,000 Bitcoins

  • over the past three years,

  • generating about $28 million in revenue

  • over that time period.

  • (speaking in foreign language)

  • - [Narrator] Miners need cheap electricity,

  • which is abundant in some parts of China thanks

  • to dams and coal power plants

  • that were built by the state in the past decade.

  • That electricity then powers fast machines

  • that are necessary to solve mathematical problems

  • in order to eventually mint new coins.

  • China is home to the vast majority

  • of mining equipment production

  • and so miners like Liu always have speedy access

  • to the best technology,

  • like this cooling system.

  • (speaking in foreign language)

  • - [Narrator] But the industry in China lives

  • with uncertainty.

  • Liu asked to keep the location

  • of the site a secret because he says he's not sure

  • if the government will crack down one day.

  • While mining itself isn't illegal,

  • virtual currency trading

  • and crypto exchanges are banned in China

  • because they're seen as risky

  • to the country's financial system.

  • In the past few months,

  • Bitcoin industry insiders have said

  • that Beijing accused some Chinese miners

  • of money laundering

  • and froze their credit cards,

  • making it difficult for miners to pay operating costs.

  • The Chinese government did not respond

  • to a request for comment.

  • So to help miners develop their business

  • despite the risks,

  • Liu offers loans so miners don't need

  • to go through Chinese banks.

  • His company Babel Finance lends cryptocurrencies

  • to about 300 miners,

  • including the owners of this site.

  • - So that they can purchase more equipment

  • at a lower cost

  • and then maintaining the machine itself,

  • including repairs.

  • - [Narrator] And Chinese miners

  • are now facing growing competition from overseas.

  • - In the United States,

  • we have massive infrastructure,

  • power infrastructure and building infrastructure

  • that's already been built out

  • and we can convert facilities

  • into large data mining facilities.

  • - [Narrator] Russell Cann is an American miner

  • who scouts the US for abandoned factories

  • and converts them into mining facilities.

  • His goal?

  • Raise cash to develop industrial-scale mining

  • in the US where until a few years ago,

  • most miners ran small DIY operations.

  • - [Xander] This is my housing for my computers

  • so that the heat is vented outside.

  • - [Narrator] So Core Scientific

  • has built a team with former executives

  • from Microsoft and Myspace

  • and put together an ambitious business plan.

  • - We have Ernst & Young audit the financials.

  • We have a strong balance sheet.

  • We check a lot of boxes for institutional investors

  • that a Chinese miner does not check.

  • - [Narrator] The strategy worked.

  • In the past two years,

  • the company has raised $95 million

  • and secured a $20 million loan

  • to install mining rigs in facilities

  • including a former denim factory in North Carolina

  • and a former carpet factory in Georgia.

  • Core Scientific's power infrastructure

  • can handle the latest mining equipment,

  • which Cann says usually consumes approximately

  • 100 megawatt hours of electricity to mine one Bitcoin.

  • That's the same amount of electricity used

  • to watch television continuously for about 98 years.

  • And tunnels that were once used

  • to cool the factory are now being used

  • to keep chips from overheating.

  • - We've got the ability

  • to process 200,000 gallons of chilled water

  • through these pipes to keep the temperature

  • in the building down.

  • - [Narrator] Cann hopes all this will help him offset

  • a long-running technological disadvantage.

  • He was usually about four months behind his Chinese rivals

  • when it came to accessing the latest rigs

  • and the price tag was sometimes 50% more expensive.

  • Others are using the same playbook as Cann,

  • creating corporations that attract the support

  • of institutional investors

  • who then help fund high-tech mining sites.

  • Industry insiders and academics

  • who study mining say

  • that the US efforts can be good for the future

  • of the cryptocurrency

  • because the original goal of Bitcoin

  • was to create a currency

  • that couldn't be controlled by one entity.

  • - The dream was that we would reimagine finance

  • without gatekeepers and what did we get

  • after 11 years?

  • We got different kind of intermediaries.

  • Now mostly nameless, mostly under the covers in China.

  • - [Narrator] Emin Gun Sirer runs a blockchain startup

  • and is also an associate professor

  • at Cornell University.

  • He studies the vulnerabilities of cryptocurrencies

  • and says Beijing might intervene in the market.

  • - [Emin] This is an enormous issue.

  • These miners, they could receive injunctions

  • that compels them to act in a certain way.

  • - [Narrator] One request he says

  • could be to ask miners to exclude certain people

  • who want to spend or accept Bitcoins in the network,

  • essentially blocking transactions.

  • This is what Bitcoin academics call censorship,

  • similar to how content and accounts

  • can be blocked on social media platforms in China.

  • - The Chinese government would say

  • that the money at certain addresses

  • must not move and it compels the Chinese miners

  • to not include certain transactions

  • so they can selectively sensor certain users

  • of a blockchain.

  • - [Narrator] The Chinese government did not respond

  • to a request for comment.

  • Babel Finance says if miners in China

  • are asked by the government to intervene in the network,

  • they would have to comply.

  • But that would slow down their operations

  • and eventually diminish their global processing power.

  • But US miners aren't immune to facing scrutiny

  • from financial regulators at home

  • that have proposed plans

  • to hold the industry to the same standards followed

  • by traditional financial institutions.

  • The more immediate resistance

  • to US miners could come from local communities concerned

  • about the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining.

  • - Bitcoin mining consumes enormous amounts

  • of energy so all energy that goes to miners

  • is energy that's being directed away

  • from other more useful uses.

  • - [Narrator] Cann says nearly half of the electricity used

  • by Core Scientific comes from carbon-free sources.

  • Because China's miners aren't part

  • of a corporate structure like in the US,

  • Liu says that they can operate faster

  • and spend less on operating costs.

  • - If you multiply the operational costs,

  • China still has the advantage.

  • China will be on the front of the curve into the future.

  • - 2021's all about expansion

  • and we've built infrastructure,

  • we've built the software, we've built the team

  • to be a long-term player in this market.

  • (upbeat music)

- [Narrator] This is a Bitcoin mine hidden deep

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B2 中高級 美國腔

美国与中国比特币矿业霸权之战(U.S. vs China: The Battle for Bitcoin Mining Supremacy | WSJ)

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    joey joey 發佈於 2021 年 05 月 29 日
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