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China Mulls Creating an East Asia Centric CBDC Platform

Central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) have been the talk of the industry since last year, when significant efforts from several countries were announced. While some efforts, like the Venezuelan Petro, seemed poised to fail from the start, there are still a handful of ambitious projects that could change the way money works forever.

At the helm of this effort is, of course, China, with its various pilot projects and government support for launching a national digital currency. And while the governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), Yi Gang, said that there was “no timetable” for the release of the digital yuan, the public remained confident that it could see the light of day as soon as this year.

However, a new current has appeared in the vast sea that is China, overshadowing the upcoming digital yuan with something much more ambitious.

According to a report from Nikkei Asian Review, China is considering launching a pan-Asian digital currency that would rival Libra, a proposed stablecoin project from Facebook. 

During the meeting of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, one of the most influential advisory bodies within the government, ten members reportedly proposed a plan to create a digital currency consisting of the Chinese yuan, the Japanese yen, the South Korean won, and the Hong Kong Dollar. 

The proposal bears a lot of weight due to the importance of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). The body is made up of representatives from various industries in the country and is held on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress. Some of the members that initiated the proposal are also significantly influential figures—Neil Shen, one of the ten members, is the co-founder of leading Chinese travel services provider Ctrip and one of the top venture capital investors in the country with a personal fortune of over $1.6 billion.

Henry Tang, a former Hong Kong politician and a civil servant who served as chief secretary, the special administrative region’s second highest position, also backed the proposal calling on the private sector to take the reins on CBDC development.

The regional cryptocurrency will be backed by a basket of four currencies, with the rations of endorsement determined by the economic scale of the associated countries, Nikkei Asian Review explained. This means that the Chinese yuan could account for more than 60% of the backing, while the Japanese yen would account for only 20%. 

A cross-border payments network between digital wallets would also be created under the proposed plan, enabling businesses to transact with the pan-Asian digital currency. Advocates of the newly proposed digital currency said that, when combined with the network, it would help expand international trade and lessen the risk of foreign exchange volatility. 

While we are yet to see whether the plan actually comes to fruition, it’s safe to say that it’s in line both with China’s digital yuan plans and its efforts to facilitate a free trade agreement with Japan and South Korea. 


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