The Nomad Economist: This is Why China Wants a Digital Yuan

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The Nomad Economist
Premiered Apr 18, 2021

In his 2011 book On Russia, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger used the ancient Chinese game of Weiqi, or Go, as it is also commonly known, as an extended metaphor to conceptualize and explain the decisions of the Chinese regime in both foreign and domestic policy. A game of strategic domination akin to chess, Go is won by building and maintaining key positions around the board, rather than by any strategy of outright attrition. Understood as one of the stones placed upon the board, the digital yuan joins the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and militarization of the South China Sea as part of a strategy for squeezing US positions both internationally and domestically.

In the struggle to dominate the multidimensional board of geostrategy, space, cyberspace, air, land, and sea, the digital yuan poses a new and unique challenge to the US regime. Though there has long been speculation, even serious discussion, of the dollar being replaced or eventually displaced as the world reserve currency, it has remained the overwhelming currency of choice, due in part to institutional inertia but also because of the continued relative economic predominance maintained by the US. As Tim Morrison pointed out in Foreign Policy a little over a year ago, this “exorbitant privilege” entails many advantages for Washington. Chief among them is the US’s ability to cheaply and immediately finance its own deficit spending, as well as disproportionate power in imposing economic sanctions.

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