Concerns have risen, in some quarters, that Libra will fuel a new round of international currency competition and a challenge to financial sovereignty. According to Facebook’s white paper, Libra will be linked to a basket of major currencies and governed by a Switzerland-based non-profit consortium, the Libra Association, which includes more than two dozen companies, including Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, Stripe, eBay and Uber.
China wants to know, in particular, the composition of the currency basket and the role the US dollar will play.
“If the digital currency is closely associated with the US dollar, it could create a scenario under which sovereign currencies would coexist with US dollar-centric digital currencies. But there would be in essence one boss, that is the US dollar and the United States. If so, it would bring a series of economic, financial and even international political consequences,” Wang warned.
To cope with Libra, many countries could be forced to issue their own central bank digital currencies, develop Libra-like products or resort to a new international digital currency based on the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights. The Special Drawing Rights basket of currencies currently includes the Chinese yuan, along with the US dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound.
The PBOC, after receiving approval from the State Council, have been working with market institutions on creating a central bank digital currency, according to Wang said. However, there have been no public announcements of progress.
At Monday’s conference, an open research initiative on digital finance was inaugurated, which will harness the academic resources of top Chinese universities, including Peking University, Renmin University, Zhejiang University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University, to accelerate research.
Huang Yiping, a Peking University professor and the rotating current chairman of the research initiative, said China had done well in promoting financial inclusiveness with digital finance, in contrast to the United States.
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