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China bestseller sees plots and profit in financial crisis
Updated: 2009-09-21 15:36

China bestseller sees plots and profit in financial crisis

Chinese author Song Hongbing adjusts his glasses as he speaks during an interview in his office in Beijing September 21, 2009.[Agencies]

BEIJING - A disaster worse than the financial crisis will engulf the world, predicts China's latest financial bestseller, and its author is preparing to profit from the turmoil. But that profit will not be in U.S. dollars.

In "Currency Wars 2", Song Hongbing claims a shadowy global elite will introduce a single world currency around 2024, tossing the dollar into the dustbin, condemned by loose-spending Washington policies and the waning dominance of the West.

Song's book, a sequel to his 2007 bestseller, claims this murky establishment of bankers and politicians stood by as markets crashed last year, hoping the trauma would hasten the world's acceptance of a single currency and world government.

"This crisis was bound to occur, but there were people who understood that beforehand and set in place the arrangements," Song told Reuters in an interview in his office, lined with books on finance, Chinese history and biographies of tycoons.

"This crisis was just warming up public opinion for a single global currency ... Another, even bigger crisis will be needed to launch the world currency into reality."

"Currency Wars 2" will not convince many economists. But its popularity is a telling sign of China's contradictory times.

It echoes the mix of disdain, suspicion and awe of the United States that is reflected in Chinese media and official comment.

Song's intricate diagrams and claims of generations of purported conspirators guiding the world's course read like the plot of a thriller novel, and footnotes in his book suggest familiarity with far-right U.S. conspiracy theories.

When Chinese President Hu Jintao speaks at the G20 summit in Pittsburgh this week, he is sure to deliver a sober mix of proposals and admonitions that avoids such heady claims.

Yet China often says the United States has long backed plots seeking to subjugate it, even while Beijing is the world's biggest holder of U.S. treasury debt, which makes up a big chunk of its foreign exchange holdings.

"The popularity of Currency Wars reflects a widespread feeling that China's power isn't properly reflected in the way the global financial system works," said Wang Yong, a professor of international political economy at Peking University.

"A conspiracy theory is always an easy way to explain that imbalance ... It helps make sense of complicated issues."

A U.S. decision to put high duties on Chinese-made tires could stoke the Chinese public anger with Washington that helped make Song's two books bestsellers, he said.

Yet in the looming turmoil, China should be pragmatic and focus on seizing economic opportunities. "There are always opportunities to make money, even during a crisis or depression."

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