The great financial crisis, alongside the ascent of China and other emerging markets and the existential threat to the euro, is prompting policymakers in the West, too, to question the established monetary order. Change is in the air.
But with no obvious alternative to the dollar for now, the timing and extent of any shifts in the existing order are inherently unpredictable, much like exchange rates themselves.
While Beijing sees opportunities in using the yuan beyond its borders, others see risks - not least to China itself: relaxing capital controls so foreigners can reinvest their accumulated yuan in China's securities markets is one of the preconditions of reserve currency status.
Yet allowing market-driven money flows to drive exchange and interest rates would weaken the ruling Communist Party's tight grip on two of the main economic levers, potentially sowing the very instability it abhors.
Image: A combination photo shows China's Politburo Standing Committee members - the powerful nine - (from L to R, 1st row) Hu Jintao, Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, (from L to R, 2nd row) Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, (from L to R, 3rd row) Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang waving to the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing October 22, 2007. China will have a new politburo late this year.