As a reminder: sooner or later the full video of the "Chimerica" discussion between Niall Ferguson and me, this week at the Aspen Ideas Festival, will be posted at the Aspen site. (Previous mentions here and here.) If you see or read the full version, you will note that an absolutely fundamental premise in the argument (Ferguson's) for the inevitable collision of US and Chinese interests is that the Chinese leadership has recently lost all faith in the U.S. economy and the U.S. dollar and is determined to move away from the dollar as an international currency.
You will note too that statements by Chinese officials, taken strictly at face value, are the main pieces of evidence for this contention. In that regard, this latest statement by a senior Chinese official deserves notice:
My argument, as you'll see, is that China and the United States will continue to disagree over countless issues but are too thoroughly connected to be pushed by the current world economic crisis toward what Ferguson declares a "divorce." If a real separation occurs, it would probably be over Taiwan or some other non-routine-economic issue.
Bear this statement from He Yafei (genuine influential official) in mind when you hear "academic discussions" about moves away from the dollar. And, as I've mentioned many times, if you're looking for an "academic" perspective on the Chinese economy and US-Chinese tensions that is based on its actual realities rather than sweeping generalizations, start here.
UPDATE: Thanks to Andy Rothman of CLSA in Shanghai for the reminder that one week ago, Zhou Xiaochuan, the People's Bank of China governor who touched off original speculation about China's move away from dollar holdings, declared that China would be making no sudden moves to change its currency holdings. Why this matters: the "impending breakup" thesis depends crucially on the idea that China is quickly and unstoppably undoing its links to the U.S. economy and U.S. holdings.