In his article in the Russian media preceding the meeting, XI enthused that "China-Russia trade exceeded 190 billion U.S. dollars last year, up by 116 percent from ten years ago." Though it has reached 190 billion US dollars, it is no longer all being traded in US dollars. In his article in the Chinese media, Putin said that "the share of settlements in national currencies" of all that trade "is growing." 65% of that massive China-Russia trade is now being conducting in their Russian and Chinese currencies.
Though the US sees Russia and China as the largest threats to its position in the world, it is not just America's enemies that are fleeing the dollar. Its closest friends have hinted at it too. Following his meetings with XI in China, French President Emmanuel Macron likely stunned and angered the US by calling for Europe to reduce its dependency on the "extraterritoriality of the US dollar."
These calls for a flight from the US dollar are not merely economic, they are geopolitical. They are calls to reshape the world order by challenging US hegemony and advocating multipolarity. The monopoly of the dollar has not just assured US wealth: it has assured US power. Most international trade is conducted in dollars, and most foreign exchange reserves are held in dollars. That dollar dominance has often allowed the US to dictate ideological alignment or to impose economic and political structural adjustments on other countries. It has also allowed the US to become the only country in the world that can effectively sanction its opponents. Emancipation from the hegemony of the dollar is emancipation from US hegemony. The flight from the US dollar is a mechanism for replacing the US led unipolar world with a multipolar world.
As the US has recently demonstrated in Cuba, Venezuela, Afghanistan, Iran and Russia, the monopoly of the dollar allows it to be very powerfully and quickly weaponized. Countries' funds can be held hostage, and countries can be coerced and starved into falling in line by sanctions. Recent demonstrations of that power have awoken many countries to their own vulnerability.
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently said that "There is a risk when we use financial sanctions that are linked to the role of the dollar that over time it could undermine the hegemony of the dollar." She explained that "Of course, it does create a desire on the part of China, of Russia, of Iran to find an alternative."