Yuriko Koike, a former Japanese defense minister, sees the power of currencies through a different prism.
She said China was already using its economic might to build a "new model mercantilist imperialism" in Africa.
Turning to Asia, Koike said China's rise was likely to continue to incite as many fears as it does hopes. Beijing's economic clout was one more reason for Japan to put its financial house in order soon.
"So far, Chinese purchases of Japanese government bonds have been negligible, but the potential for China to gain influence over Japan in this regard is real and should be acknowledged," Koike, who was not present to discuss her paper, wrote.
Not surprisingly, Zha, the Shanghai researcher, saw the blossoming of the yuan as the currency equivalent of China's peaceful rise in foreign policy.
Before long, the renminbi would be the de facto common currency of a more economically and financially integrated East Asia that would thus speak with a "more consensus-oriented" regional voice in international affairs. The consensus, he implied, would be set out by China, whose economy would be at least twice as big as Japan's within a decade.
Harsha Vardanha Singh, deputy director-general of the World Trade Organization, said the yuan was the currency most likely to acquire reserve status in years to come.
But, because of the changing patterns of trade and the increase in supply chains, other currencies important in regional trade would assume a much larger significance on the global stage, he argued.
"These various developments will create a much more extensive multi-polar currency world than is usually anticipated," Singh said.