Like seashells, it's a real currency. But China is cracking down on buying because it's a way to move renminbi to foreign currency, and they don't want the rich stashing their cash in dollars or euros.
As far as I can tell, they aren't stopping mining in China (that brings in foreign currency), and they aren't stopping cryptocurrency trading (between coins), either.
There's a lot of FUD, so people are selling their cryptocurrency to fiat, and, so, they're taking a dump. There's already been a minor recovery in Bitcoin as buyers come in to scoop up at the low prices.
I'm doing some casual mining with a 4x1070 setup (using the same frame I was using back in the days we were doing it, Doug) but I decided to play the Bitcoin video game by just buying a bunch on Gemini 2 months ago. It seems like a much better setup than Coinbase - (very few complaints) and identity verification went smoothly (unlike Coinbase). I use a Ledger S to keep it offline.
For anyone interested, MultipoolMiner works great with MiningPoolHub to autoswitch coins and automatically cash in for BTC.