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RMB transnationalization and the infrastructural power of international financial centres

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Green, Jeremy 


The internationalization of the renminbi (RMB) raises important questions concerning dynamics of transformation within the post-crisis global monetary order. International political economists have predominantly analysed the currency’s cross-border evolution as a consequence of China’s macroeconomic conditions, domestic politics, and currency statecraft within a broader framework of international monetary hierarchy. In this article, we draw upon insights from financial geography to rethink the rise of the RMB as a process of transnational market-making involving actors and political agency across distinctive scales. We develop a multi-scalar framework that illuminates the distinctive agency of London and Hong Kong in this process, conceptualizing it as a form of subnational infrastructural power that facilitates financial market-making in concert with (and despite) dynamics of interstate geopolitics. This goes some way in remedying the scalar deficiency of existing theories of political economy of international money, as well as integrating considerations of power and political agency into financial geography perspectives. Empirically, we trace how the unique development of London’s offshore RMB market reflects this interplay between private financial actors, municipal-level authorities, and national political priorities. Finally, we discuss how IFC-led market-making relates to system-level dynamics by both facilitating ‘tipping points’ in global monetary change, as well as diluting national monetary power.



4408 Political Science, 44 Human Society

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Review of International Political Economy

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Informa UK Limited


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Great Britain China Centre (GBCC) (unknown)
The research for this article was funded by the Great Britain China Centre under the grant ‘Renminbi Internationalisation and Emerging Geographies of International Monetary Power’ and the ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship: Grant Number ES/N001982/1.