Currencies

Bill Aims to Ban China’s Digital Currency from US App Stores

A visitor passes by a logo for the e-CNY, a digital version of the Chinese Yuan, displayed during a trade fair in Beijing, China.

Popular apps like WeChat have started supporting the Chinese digital currency.
Photo: Ng Han Guan (AP)

Three Republican Senators have proposed a bill to try and ban the use of apps that support China’s digital currency, also known as e-CNY or digital yuan, over concerns that the Chinese government could use the currency to spy on U.S. citizens.

The draft law was labeled as the “Defending Americans from Authoritarian Digital Currencies Act,” and calls for prohibiting app stores including Apple and Google from carrying any apps that accept purchases in the digital currency. That would include the popular messaging app WeChat, which announced that it would support e-CNY earlier this year.

The senators behind the bill warned of the alleged financial and surveillance risks associated with the digital yuan. “The Chinese Communist Party’s digital yuan allows direct control and access to the financial lives of individuals,” Indiana Senator Mike Braun, said in a statement. “We cannot allow this authoritarian regime to use their state-controlled digital currency as an instrument to infiltrate our economy and the private information of American citizens.” Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton reiterated Braun’s concern that the digital currency would be used to “control and spy on anyone who uses it.”

“We can’t give China that chance—the United States should reject China’s attempt to undermine our economy at its most basic level,” Cotton added in the same statement.

China’s digital currency has raised concerns over safety and privacy issues. During the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing, a group of republican lawmakers warned American athletes not to use digital yuan while in China, claiming that it could be tracked by the central bank.

Meanwhile, China has promised “controllable anonymity” that would allow users to keep their transactions anonymous to a “reasonable extent,” according to Mu Changchun, director of the Digital Currency Research Institute at the People’s Bank of China.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden announced that he supports the development of a U.S. digital currency. Biden ordered several agencies to begin researching and submitting their reports in anticipation of an alleged global move towards digital currencies.

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