top of page

Yuan Adoption Tracker

Scroll to see more

China's push for greater international use of the yuan has evolved from a purely economic initiative to a more assertive strategy under President Xi Jinping. Yuan internationalization, once focused on increasing China's stature through trade and economic interdependence, has now become part of Beijing's attempts to assert itself as a global power in the security and economic spheres.

The discussions of yuan adoption in financial and policy media has risen sharply in the aftermath of Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Treatment of yuan internationalization in Western circles varies from inattention and consternation to full-throated alarms that the renminbi will dethrone the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. While the media goes through cyclical, and anecdotal, hysteria around Chinese efforts, economists have been quick to dismiss the project as economically infeasible and practically impossible given the dollar’s unique and embedded role in the world economy. 

Despite clear SWIFT transaction data that shows the dollar’s continued dominance as a percentage of total trade, the absence of data-driven political-economy analysis still undermines discourse on the subject. Therefore, the Yuan Adoption Tracker aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of yuan-denominated transactions on a country-by-country basis, examining the motivations behind each nation's approach and cutting through the conventional narratives surrounding this trend. By doing so, the tracker seeks to offer a more nuanced understanding of the yuan's growing international role and its implications for the global financial system.

Novel Dataset 

The Tracker examines 194 countries, compiling publicly available information using, a combination of webscraping and hand-collection to enable innovative analysis of a polarizing and commonly discussed but relatively unexamined trend. 


Each country is assigned adoption status and driver of adoption based on a standard scale open source indicators of their adoption as of April 2024. All countries were rated by two research analysts and validated by advisors to ensure reliability of the observations.

Adoption Status

  • No Evidence of Adoption: no available data or clear opposition to the yuan.

  • Considering Adoption: public interest, ongoing negotiations, or signed MOU.

  • Adopted by Central Bank: used as a reserve currency or used to settle debts.

  • Bilateral Trade Adoption: used to settle trade with China.

  • Financial Sector Adoption: used in the domestic financial sector.

  • Multilateral Trade Adoption: used for trade where China is not a counterparty. 

  • Full Legal Adoption: where the yuan is legal tender.

Drivers of Adoption

  • Financial Sector Competitiveness: Access new markets and promote domestic firms

  • Trade Efficiency: Make bilateral trade relationships more efficient 

  • Trade Promotion: Increase bilateral trade with China

  • Economic Development: Increase Chinese investment and aid

  • Economic Crisis: respond to economic and financial instability

  • Geopolitical Hedging: proactively diversify economic relationships

  • Sanctions Evasion: trade outside of the dollar system while under sanctions

Click on a country to see status and further details.

Key Findings

A relatively high level of economic complexity is a precursor to renminbi adoption. That is, even countries that are struggling with their finances are seen as acceptable investments for Beijing, as long as the economy is sophisticated enough.

Two waves of adoption (2014 and 2022) both correlate heavily with fears about a strong dollar’s impact on global markets. Weak economies struggle to weather a strong dollar and Fed policy and have begun to look to the yuan as a potential alternative.

Geopolitical instability and rising concern about security of central bank dollar reserves post- Russia sanctions has promoted an increase in hedging among EM central banks. This has been a bigger headway for gold than the yuan though.

Most adoption is for bilateral trade efficiency and to increase trade with China.  Countries with large financial sectors have also adopted to remain competitive. Such cases have strong economic logic behind them but little chance of supporting broader de-depolarization of the world economy.

Economic crisis then is the biggest driver of both proactive and reactive Yuan adoption. As such the Federal reserve and G7 central banks should consider creating liquidity swap programs to ease acute strong dollar pressures and ameliorate a core driver of adoption across emerging economies.

A small subset of players is forming an effective Yuan zone in the face of sanctions regimes that effectively cut them off from the dollar system. Ironically though, rogue regimes in the Americas (Cuba and Venezuela) are even more dependent on illicitly sourced dollars.

Development Team:
Dana Cahoon, Alex de Roos, Ken Stibler, Patricia Diaz


D, Cahoon. K, Stibler. A, de Roos, (2024). Yuan Adoption Tracker. Center for Emerging Economies, Washington DC.  

bottom of page