Protests over democracy in Hong Kong may be preoccupying the Chinese leadership, but a subject of still greater international importance is being played out this week behind closed doors in Washington. China is bidding to enter the heart of global finance by establishing its currency, the renminbi, as part of an ubiquitous monetary unit used in official transactions around the world.
The issue of whether the Chinese should be part of the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Right, the composite reserve currency used in official financing, is highly technocratic, but the political questions at stake go to the core of world money and power – and will be discussed, in the background, at the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank in Washington this week.
The decision on a new SDR structure, to be made in the next 15 months, will influence how China and its currency can play a bigger part in driving world trade, investment and capital flows. The renminbi could eventually challenge the dollar and its pivotal position in world money — which is why the U.S. government and Federal Reserve are examining this with intense interest.
Beijing would prefer the question of recalculating the composition of the SDR, which comes up for review in 2015, to follow market developments, reflecting a big increase in demand for renminbi financing from private banks, central banks, traders, corporations and asset managers.
But the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that despite airstrikes overnight and into Thursday morning, the Islamic State fighters captured a police station in the east of the town and now control a third of Kobani.
Following Monday’s mysterious blast at a suspected Iranian nuclear facility east of Tehran, satellite imagery obtained by Israel’s Channel 2 and Israel Defense magazine Wednesday claimed to show extensive damage at the site.
Images of the facility taken Tuesday, a day after the reported explosion which killed at least two people at the secretive Parchin plant, showed that several buildings at the location sustained heavy damage and some even collapsed, Channel 2 reported.
The photos “clearly show damage consistent with an attack against bunkers in a central locality within the military research complex at the Parchin military compound,” Israel Defense wrote.
The images were taken by the French satellite Pleiades the morning following the blast, the source of which remains unknown.