Business Insider-The rise of the Renminbi as an international currency is looked up with an almost breathless anticipation from London to Tokyo to Sydney. All this excitement has tended to eclipse a more sober assessment of the opportunities and obstacles the Chinese yuan realistically faces, as well as the benefits and burdens a larger international role for the Renminbi would pose for China. Rarely are the questions asked: Does China really want or need to manage a global currency? And if so, what price is it willing to pay?
The growing role of the Renminbi in China
The Renminbi has already come a long way. Not that long ago, the Renminbi wasn’t a fully functional currency even within China’s own borders. All imported goods, as well as services provided to foreign visitors, had to be paid for with Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC), in exchange for hard currencies. While FEC were ostensibly denominated in the same yuan as the Renminbi used for domestic purposes, their buying power was obviously quite different, giving rise to a vibrant black market on the doorstep of every international hotel across the country.