Tensions are rising between US lawmakers and Chinese officials. Senators Marsha Blackburn, Roger Wicker and Cynthia Lummis have written a letter to the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOPC). The trio argues that the digital yuan is a surveillance tool and would like to ban US athletes from using it. Obviously, this did not please China, and its response was not long in coming.
No politics at the Olympics!
At a press conference on July 20, the spokesman of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, addressed the warning letter of the senators. He pointed out the ignorance of the senators and urged them not to make waves:
“U.S. politicians should abide by the spirit of the Olympic Charter, stop making sport a political issue, and stop creating conflicts around digital currency in China.”
This indirect altercation between China and the U.S. is reminiscent of Russian-American tensions over recurring computer attacks. More than 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, China, Russia and the United States are clashing on new fronts. Russia is complacent about hacker groups, which weakens the U.S. infrastructure. Moreover, with the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East, Russia has now become the key player in the region.
China, for its part, has evolved its strategy under the impetus of Xi Jinping. The Middle Kingdom is now focusing on creating partnerships with emerging countries and on overpowering the world economy. At the same time, it has put forward a cultural “soft power” to extend its influence.
The Winter Olympics: a showcase for the digital yuan
As a reminder, at the Boao Forum for Asia in April, People’s Bank of China (PBoC) deputy governor Li Bo said:
“For the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, we have been trying to make the e-CNY [digital yuan] available not only to domestic users, but also to international athletes and visitors.”
During the 2022 Winter Olympics, vending machines and stores will issue portable payment devices, which will make it easy to use digital yuan. Moreover, Chinese citizens have already created more than 20.8 million virtual wallets to use crypto-yuan.
The PBoC has not yet confirmed a timeline for the full rollout of digital currency electronic payments, but it has confirmed that 34.5 billion yuan ($5.3 billion) has already been spent in 70.8 million transactions. However, one question remains: will the digital yuan be anonymous?