GT Voice: Yuan going global to support economy, not replace others
Published: Jul 10, 2024 10:25 PM
Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Illustration: Tang Tengfei/GT

Despite the progress made in the internationalization of the Chinese yuan, it is crucial for China to maintain a clear perspective on the financial fluctuations and risks behind the de-dollarization hype.

The Chinese yuan's share on Russia's foreign exchange market reached 99.6 percent in June, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

It marked a substantial increase from the previous month when the Chinese yuan accounted for just 53.6 percent of Russia's exchange trading volume. This is mainly because the latest sanctions introduced by the US in mid-June forced the Moscow Exchange to halt trading in US dollars and the euro, according to the report.

It was not hard for US policymakers to foresee the potential consequences before imposing sanctions on Russia. As it stands, it was US sanctions that contributed to the de-dollarization of trade between China and Russia. With de-dollarization hype in the West ramping up, China must exercise caution toward the yuan's internationalization efforts to avoid geopolitical interpretation.

In recent years, the progress of the yuan's internationalization has sparked concerns in the US regarding the potential de-dollarization effects of the currency. It is true that the US government has abused the dominant position of the US dollar within the international financial system to advance its geopolitical agenda, making the dollar increasingly resemble a political tool and causing many countries to promote de-dollarization to avoid potential geopolitical risks. But given the reality of international trade and investment landscape, the US dollar still remains the most important currency for trade settlement and investment, making it difficult to challenge its dominance in the short term.

Of course, while there is no denying about the dominant position of the US dollar, the diversification of international currencies is still crucial for mitigating geopolitical risk of currencies. The yuan's internationalization can play a role in this, but it should not be overstated.

Furthermore, as China pushes forward with the internationalization of the yuan, it is imperative to fully consider the intricate nature of the China-US economic and trade relations. The economies of China and the US have established large-scale, complementary and interdependent partnership. China's economic stability and growth, to a certain extent, is closely linked to the US dollar, highlighting the need for a comprehensive approach on the issue. Thus, rather than actively pushing for de-dollarization, China should focus on seeking further resolution of the China-US trade issues through negotiations, while continuing to promote the expansion of global trade, creating a conducive environment for the global acceptance of the yuan.

In addition, a hasty push of the internationalization of the yuan may pose risks of volatility and instability in the financial markets. This is because rapidly expanding the use of the yuan in the international market may introduce new challenges to the management of China's foreign exchange reserves. Currently, China maintains substantial holdings of dollar reserves, which serve as a guarantee for the stability of the Chinese economy and its resilience against external threats. If other countries ditch the dollar too quickly, it could result in fluctuations in the valuation of dollar assets, placing strain on China's reserve management.

In short, the internationalization of the yuan is a delicate process that necessitates China's careful navigation of the international political and economic environment, bolstering domestic economic reforms and financial stability, facilitating multilateral trade and investment, along with the implementation of a cautious strategy. After all, the primary goal of the yuan's internationalization is to facilitate greater integration of China into the global economy, rather than to displace others.