Well, now it's official: China has announced and launched its international financial clearing system, CIPS, the China International Payment System, according to this TASS article shared by Mr. L.B.:
As the article notes, the system is designed to be a deliberate alternative to the SWIFT system based in Brussels. But more importantly, this will be a yuan-based system:
BEIJING, October 8. /TASS/.The China International Payment System (CIPS) officially began its operations on Thursday, a statement posted on the country’s State Council website has said.
Fan Yifei, deputy governor of the central bank, the People's Bank of China, told a ceremony in Shanghai that the establishment of CIPS "will allow increasing efficiency of cross-border settlement in yuans and encourage the yuan’s use globally."
The new payment system is also expected to help improve the support of the real economy and the strategy of the Chinese companies’ access to global markets," the central bank official said.
Or to put it country simple, China isn't waiting around to gain admission of the yuan into the SDR(Special Drawing Rights, the international basket of currencies that forms the units of account for the IMF, World Bank, and other international clearing and finance institutions). It is making its play to transform the yuan into a parallel reserve currency now, and hence taking direct aim at the US dollar hegemony.
What does this portend?
One thing, and a highly significant one, is what it is implying about China's space capabilities. As I've noted many times on this website, international financial clearing is dependent upon two large factors: a strong navy to protect actual physical commerce moving globally, and a strong space communications system and the ability to protect it. By all public measures of such assets of power and power projection, China's capabilities in these areas is still dwarfed by America's. And this leads us to an interpretive problematic: either China's move is bluster, a bit of "financial gun boat diplomacy", or there are largely unknown and undisclosed naval and space assets and technologies backing it up. It's the latter possibility that's going to have western intelligence services, particularly in the UK and USA, burning the midnight oil. And I suspect - strongly in fact - that it is a mixture of both cases, weighted on the side that China has "unknown and undisclosed" capabilities.
There's yet another geopolitical factor at work here: Russia, and Japan. Recall that recently Russia and Japan signed an agreement giving Russia access to the Japanese Credit Bureau's clearing system in Eastern Asia and the Western Pacific, a significant move that builds redundancy into the clearing mechanisms Russia is trying to contruct, for this gives it access bypassing any Chinese system, while at the same time, Russia and China have also entered into bilateral clearing arrangements by-passing the dollar entirely.
Put all this together and one obtains a very intriguing picture: Japan, Russia, and China are engaged in erecting parallel clearing systems bypassing the CHIPS-SWIFT system entirely, and in addition to this, they are building redundancy into the global system of international clearing, capable of functioning in more than one currency. Of course, the real question here is why? Why the need for such redundancy, besides the clear desire of those countries to get out from under the thumb of Washington? The answer is a suggestive one: one typically builds redundancy into communications systems out of "worst case scenario" analysis, i.e., out of real or potential perceived military threats. With the heightening of geopolitical tensions on planet Earth, it's a smart move. The real question is, are those tensions the only reason for the redundancy?
See you on the flip side...