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The People’s Republic of China is a leading experimenter in central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). This Article explores the current background, deployment, features, potential impacts, challenges, and legal concerns of China’s CBDC: the electronic yuan, or E-CNY. This Article explains the potential significance of what is known and not known about E-CNY with a particular focus on how E-CNY might fit into existing legal and economic systems, both within China and internationally. On the surface, E-CNY looks transformative. When you dig a little deeper, however, most of the potential changes or transformations turn on broader institutional, political, and legal changes that, so far, have not accompanied the deployment of E-CNY. Without those broader changes, the impact of E-CNY will likely remain limited, and E-CNY may not be able to achieve its policy goals.

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