China digital currency: Beijing tells US senators to ‘stop making trouble’ after e-yuan warning over 2022 Winter Olympics
- Overseas visitors will be granted access to China’s digital currency without the need to open a local bank account during trials at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing
- More than 20.8 million individuals have opened a virtual wallet as part of ongoing trials, according to the People’s Bank of China
Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn, Roger Wicker, and Cynthia Lummis urged the US Olympic Committee to forbid American athletes from using China’s new digital currency at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, citing espionage and data-security concerns.
“Olympic athletes should be aware that the digital yuan may be used to surveil Chinese citizens and those visiting China on an unprecedented scale, with the hopes that they will maintain digital yuan wallets on their smartphones and continue to use it upon return,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter sent on Monday to Susanne Lyons, board chair of the US Olympic Committee.
China’s token, still in trial stages, has triggered concerns that it may challenge the US dollar’s status as the world dominant reserve currency despite assertions from Chinese officials that it will mainly be used for domestic retail transactions.
The Senators, all members of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, requested a briefing on their request within 30 days.
The lawmakers’ actions only revealed their ignorance, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters at a regular press briefing Tuesday in Beijing.
“We suggest they figure out what a digital currency really is,” he said. “The US politicians should abide by the spirit stipulated in the Olympic Charter, stop making sports a political matter and stop making troubles out of the digital currency in China.”
Friday’s white paper said that overseas visitors will be granted access to China’s digital currency without the need to open a local bank account during trials at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
The PBOC has yet to confirm a timetable for the full roll-out of the so-called Digital Currency Electronic Payment, but confirmed on Friday that 34.5 billion yuan (US$5.3 billion) had already been spent through 70.8 million transactions as part of ongoing trials of the e-yuan over the last two years.
Additional reporting by Frank Tang