Republicans Want Digital Yuan Restricted at Beijing Olympics

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Republican Senators Marsha Blackburn, Roger Wicker, and Cynthia Lummis urged the U.S. Olympic Committee to forbid American athletes from using China’s new digital currency at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, 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 Monday to Susanne Lyons, board chair of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

China’s token, still in trial stages, has triggered concerns that it may challenge the U.S. dollar’s status as the world’s dominant reserve currency despite assertions from Chinese officials that it will mainly be used for domestic retail transactions. Across China, more than 20.8 million individuals have opened a virtual wallet, the People’s Bank of China said in a white paper published Friday.

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 U.S. 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.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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