Bipartisan Senators Sound Alarm on Chinese Digital Currency Ahead of Winter Olympics

China could use currency to obtain personal information, boost spy operations

Protesters against the 2022 Beijing Olympics / Getty Images
August 2, 2021

Bipartisan senators want the Biden administration to assess the risks associated with China's development of a new digital currency that could help the Communist government expand its global spy operation.

Senators Bill Hagerty (R., Tenn.) and Mark Warner (D., Va.) are spearheading the legislation, which they say would help the United States combat China's deployment of the currency ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics. The senators fear the currency will force athletes and others attending the games to provide China with a range of personal information, boosting Beijing's ability to spy on those inside the country.

The legislation, which was advanced last week by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, would require the Biden administration to report on the potential "short-, medium-, and long-term national security risks to the United States" associated with the electronic currency. It includes provisions that target the ways in which China could surveil financial transactions and use this information to blackmail the currency's users.

A Chinese-backed digital currency has been met with increasing concern in the lead-up to the 2022 winter games. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are hoping that a government-wide investigation will help them sculpt sanctions and other countermeasures to stop China from exploiting personal information. The legislation is likely to garner widespread support as Congress works to combat China's growing global spy operation.

"The digital currency will provide the [Chinese Communist Party] with additional information about financial transactions and economic activity, and could be used to evade U.S. sanctions," Hagerty said. "Now is the time for the U.S. intelligence community to act and inform us of their assessment of the different national security risks to America so that Congress may act appropriately and protect the U.S. Dollar's position as the world's reserve currency—a key ingredient of America's global leadership."