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Internationalisation of the Chinese Currency, Act II: Uncharted Waters, Unclear Direction


After two waves of important changes in the Chinese system of foreign exchange, one in July 2005, when the Chinese currency was allowed to fluctuate more widely against the US dollar, the other in June 2010, when it was then quoted against an undisclosed basket of currencies, but moreover, was allowed to be partially traded in Hong Kong with the invention of a 'twin' the 'offshore yuan' (CNH), a deep reform could have taken place. The creation of the CNH, allowing debt to be issued internationally in yuan, initially led to the belief that a real set of deep reforms was under way. Yet, like some reforms of the past, which were hesitant or even annulled, the path towards monetary and financial reform is encountering difficulty. The steps taken towards the 'regionalisation' or possibly the 'internationalisation' of the Chinese currency may well be taking the same route. Before the reforms have had time to come to fruition and deliver deep changes, there seems to be some indecisiveness, a sense of relative failure, or at least discovery of the limitations in a process which many, at least at the beginning, believed would be quick and decisive. This article attempts to demonstrate that, like some other Chinese reform processes of the past, the path is not yet very clear and claims of deep changes and unwavering success would be largely prematurea in the Southern African case - points to the imperative of building such limited regional economic arrangements around key states.
Keywords: regionalisation, internationalisation, renminbi, yuan, Chinese banks, dim sum bonds, monetary reforms