While the 2020 Olympics have yet to begin, the United States is already proposing restrictions for its athletes for the 2022 Winter Games. The Beijing Winter Olympics, scheduled for 2022, will be a great opportunity for China to introduce the world to its digital yuan. However, U.S. senators do not think so.
The crypto yuan: a tool for mass surveillance?
A trio of Republican senators, Cynthia Lummis, Marsha Blackburn and Roger Wicker, sent an open letter about the digital yuan. The text addressed to the US Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) asks the committee “to prohibit American athletes from receiving or using digital yuan during the Beijing Olympic Games.”
The group of senators points to significant concerns about the role of crypto-yuan. According to the open letter to the USOPC, “digital yuan could be used to monitor Chinese citizens and those visiting China on an unprecedented scale.”
In addition, the senators point to the fact that China is already making questionable use of new technologies. Indeed, the Chinese government regularly uses advanced censorship tactics based on digital tools to impede the flow of information in and out of the country. This is particularly visible in the episodes of repression in Hong Kong or with the Uyghurs.
Nevertheless, the United States is particularly ill-advised to position itself as a defender of freedoms on this subject. Indeed, it has now been proven that the NSA carries out mass surveillance activities on US citizens, on a scale worthy of the best dictatorships. Moreover, external intelligence services, notably the CIA, have placed entire sections of Europe under surveillance for many years. U.S. government agencies even go so far as to place governments with which the United States is allied under surveillance, as was the case with the German government in 2018.
To add to the hypocrisy, senators criticize the centralized nature of crypto-yuan. Yet, we would be particularly surprised if the United States were to propose a decentralized crypto-currency. It seems absolutely unthinkable that the country would cede some of its sovereignty in this manner.
MNBC and stablecoins: a duel at the top
The digital currencies of scentrals banks (MNBC) are to replace stablecoins. On this subject at least, the US and China are of the same opinion. US Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Jerome Powell told Congress that MNBCs would render stablecoins useless. According to Powell, this is great news because these assets are too risky. In his recent testimony before Congress, Powell reiterated the need to regulate stablecoins.
Meanwhile, Fan Yifei, the deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), is also concerned about the rampant growth of stablecoins. Indeed, the PBoC considers stablecoins to present “risks and challenges to the international monetary system.”
Currently being tested by nearly 21 million people and 3.5 million businesses, according to the PBoC, China’s MNBC project is the largest of its kind in the world. The 2022 Winter Games would be an excellent opportunity for the People’s Republic of China to demonstrate the breadth of its digital currency’s capabilities, while collecting some user information.