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Partners, Institutions and International Currencies: The International Political Foundations for the Rise of the Renminbi

Social Sciences in China

Vol. 38, No. 2, 2017

 

Partners, Institutions and International Currencies: The International Political Foundations for the Rise of the Renminbi

(Abstract)

 

Li Wei

 

The use of an international currency is not just a natural market phenomenon; it relies heavily on international political foundations. The historical lessons of the four major international currencies—the pound, dollar, euro and yen—show that a strong partner network and a favorable international institutional environment are the two major political foundations for the formation of a stable international currency. The rise of the renminbi, as a late starter looking to become a major international currency, depends not only on the requisite economic conditions but on governmental diplomacy aimed at attracting more monetary cooperation partners and creating international institutions that support its worldwide use. This strategy reinforces the political foundations for the rise of the renminbi. Building a network of partners supporting the renminbi as an international currency and creating a system of international monetary institutions are the real tests of the issuing country’s political leadership. This political leadership capacity has three dimensions: public trust founded on reputation building; a centripetal force driven by provision of benefits; and coercive force applied through sanctions. Comparatively speaking, the renminbi is still in the early stage of its ascent, so the development of its political infrastructure should concentrate mainly on gaining public trust through reputation-building and employing centripetal force involving provision of benefits.

 

Keywords: rise of the renminbi, monetary partner networks, international institutions, political leadership, currency diplomacy