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The Future of the Yuan

China’s Struggle to Internationalize Its Currency

Courtesy Reuters

According to a growing chorus of pundits and economists, China -- already the world’s most prolific exporter, largest sovereign creditor, and second-largest economy -- will someday soon provide the world’s reserve currency. According to this view, just as the dollar dethroned the British pound in the interwar years, so the yuan will soon displace the dollar, striking a blow to U.S. interests. As the economist Arvind Subramanian recently wrote, the yuan “could become the premier reserve currency by the end of this decade, or early next decade.”

This view has gained traction as Chinese leaders have launched a concerted effort to internationalize the yuan. During the G-20 summit in November 2008, at the height of the financial crisis, Chinese president Hu Jintao called for “a new international financial order that is fair, just, inclusive, and orderly.” Beijing soon began to encourage the use of its currency in international

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