- In China, Fears of Financial Iron Curtain as U.S. Tensions Rise
by Samuel Shen, Winni Zhou, Kevin Yao, https://www.reuters.com/
SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – A sharp escalation in tensions with the United States has stoked fears in China of a deepening financial war that could result in it being shut out of the global dollar system – a devastating prospect once considered far-fetched but now not impossible.
Chinese officials and economists have in recent months been unusually public in discussing worst-case scenarios under which China is blocked from dollar settlements, or Washington freezes or confiscates a portion of China’s huge U.S. debt holdings. Those concerns have galvanised some in Beijing to revive calls to bolster the yuan’s global clout as it looks to decrease reliance on the greenback.
Some economists even float the idea of settling exports of China-made COVID-19 vaccines in yuan, and are looking to bypass dollar settlement with a digital version of the currency. “Yuan internationalisation was a good-to-have. It’s now becoming a must-have,” said Shuang Ding, head of Greater China economic research at Standard Chartered and a former economist at the People’s Bank of China (PBOC).
The threat of Sino-U.S. financial “decoupling” is becoming “clear and present”, Ding said. Although a complete separation of the world’s two largest economies is unlikely, the Trump administration has been pushing for a partial decoupling in key areas related to trade, technology and financial activity.