The Reserve Bank of Fiji—or Fiji Central bank—is causing a stir as it has begun selling a banknote with Chinese features. However, many question the timing and drive behind the release, as China’s growing influence in the Pacific has been causing diplomatic tension recently.

The new banknote is worth $0.88. It was released on the eighth day of the eighth month of the year. 

The number eight symbolizes luck, wealth, and fortune in Chinese culture. Therefore, the more eights there are, the better. 

Along with the lucky Chinese number is an image of the Chinese god of wealth and a money tree on one side of the note. 

In the corner, the printed words read, “Good luck and good fortune. May prosperity be yours.”

The note is available for purchase from the RBF for almost $13 (FJ$28). But it is numismatic, meaning it is purely for collectors and will not go into circulation.

The note issue has drawn attention and caused a flutter of confusion on social media.

People questioned why the Fiji Bank would release the note when China has been causing diplomatic tension as it grows its influence in the Pacific, especially with the recent case surrounding the Solomon Islands.

Following the speculation on social media, Fiji Bank stepped to the front to clarify the issue. It said the banknote helps make sales income by targeting the Chinese and broader Asian market, but the note itself would not be in circulation. 

It added that the new $0.88 numismatic banknote is just one of the hundreds of similar products Fiji Bank has produced for almost five decades. And it is purely for hobbyists and collectors. 

Past banknotes featured Christmas imagery, celebrities, landmarks, and Fijian fauna themes. 

Biman Prasad—the leader of the National Federation Party—has another understanding. He said these banknotes are usually produced with a specific goal in mind. 

In an interview with Australia’s ABC news, Prasad questioned the note: 

“They are normally produced to mark commemorative events of both national and sometimes international significance.” 

“I think the controversy is, what does it signify? What does this commemorate?” 

De La Rue is a British company that worked with the Fiji Bank to design and produce the banknote. It said they chose the Chinese theme because it [quote] “felt appropriate to wish people wealth and good fortune in the context of challenging global events.” [end quote]

Prasad added that the Fiji central bank should focus on other issues, especially inflation and the high cost of living, rather than raising funds through this banknote issuance.

He added that in the current geopolitical circumstances, this action would create “suspicions and controversy,” It does not make sense to conduct these kinds of novelty exercises at the moment. 

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