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Bitcoin logos are displayed at the Inside Bitcoins conference and trade show in New York in 2014. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Bitcoin mining has become very big business — one that Chinese entrepreneurs have built a vast infrastructure to exploit. The New York Times reports on the bitcoin mining boom in rural China, where firms have set up vast server farms to help maintain the bitcoin blockchain by solving cryptographic problems in return for payment in bitcoins.

Bitmain China is one firm cashing in, operating a bitcoin farm on the outskirts of the Gobi Desert near the Mongolian border that mints $318,000 worth of bitcoin each day.

Why it matters: Bitmain's success illustrates one half of China's love-hate relationship with Bitcoin. Regulators are cracking down on potentially dangerous speculation in the currency and worry that it will aid in the evasion of strict rules on moving money in and out of China. But government officials still want to allow profitable mining of the currency and cultivate expertise in a technology that will be important for the future digital economy.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.

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