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Paola Subacchi

Currency in Progress and Governance in Transition: China and the Renminbi

2017. Vol. 12. No. 2. P. 129–145 [issue contents]

In November 2008 the G20 became the premier forum for international economic and financial affairs. As a result, the international monetary system has come to reflect the transformation of the global economy brought about by China’s emergence as the second largest economy and major exporter, and by the related limits of international governance, especially of the so-called Bretton Woods institutions. This article argues that Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of the People’s Bank of China, started an international debate about the shortfalls of the international monetary system in March 2009, after which China pursued the internationalization of its own currency, the renminbi, to turn it into one of the key international currencies. To this purpose, China has put together a policy framework that facilitates the international use of the renminbi without opening domestic capital markets — a requisite for a fully convertible international currency. This article discusses the renminbi’s trajectory over the last five years and suggests that it has become more regionalized rather than internationalized. It also discusses the challenges that Chinese authorities experience as they try to put the renminbi in the pockets of foreign investors and at the same time maintain control — “managed convertibility” — of capital flows in and out of the domestic market. The article concludes that the decision to include the renminbi in the International Monetary Fund’s basket for its special drawing rights reflects expectations that the international monetary system will shift from a dollar-dominated to a multi-currency system. However, this will take several years; in the meantime, international governance will continue to reflect the influences of the issuers of the key international currencies.

Citation: Subacchi P. (2017) Currency in Progress and Governance in Transition: China and the Renminbi. International Organisations Research Journal, vol. 12, no 2, pp. 129–145 (in Russian and English). DOI: 10.17323/1996-7845-2017-02-129
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