This Thursday, a bill was born in the United States, to ban applications that support the digital yuan. Supported by three senators, this proposal is justified by a mistrust of a possible attempt of espionage from China.
The digital yuan is not welcome in the United States
On Thursday, three U.S. senators unveiled a bill to prevent the digital yuan (e-CNY) from being used within the country. This central bank digital currency (CBDN) is effectively available on mobile applications such as WeChat and Alipay, which can be downloaded from the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, for example.
So it is this possibility, of the digital yuan being deployed in the United States, that is problematic.
Tom Cotton, the senator representing Arkansas, did not mince words when he argued that the Chinese government had a way to spy on American citizens:
“The Chinese Communist Party will use its digital currency to control and spy on anyone who uses it. We cannot give China this chance […] to undermine our economy at its most basic level.”
For his part, Mike Braun, the senator representing Indiana, had similar words:
“The Chinese Communist Party’s digital yuan allows direct control and access to individuals’ financial lives. We cannot allow this authoritarian regime to use its state-controlled digital currency as a tool to infiltrate our economy and the private information of American citizens.”
Thus, if this bill were to become a reality, the various application providers would no longer be able to offer for download those allowing the use of e-CNY.
Faced with this bill, the Chinese embassy in Washington did not fail to assert its position. It called the move a gratuitous attempt to intimidate foreign companies, citing an unwarranted use of the national security argument.
It is true that a state can theoretically monitor the circumstances in which its MNBC is used, and even potentially control its use. But it is difficult to see how this can go further once another currency is used. Besides, a smartphone alone can already be a spying tool.
We can see that these considerations are rather political and macroeconomic.
While the Biden administration is still debating the position to adopt regarding a potential MNBC, China has already taken a lead on the subject. This case therefore touches on the sovereignty of two of the world’s greatest powers.