Beijing has been unusually bold in recent months in expressing concern about Washington's financial management and pushing for global economic changes. That reflects both its relative financial health and growing concern that increased globalization means missteps abroad could harm its own economy.
Zhou's comments are also part of China's longstanding push to reform the IMF, World Bank and global financial system to give greater voice to China and other developing economies — another theme that will be heard from China, Brazil, Russia and India at the summit of Group of 20 major economies next week.
"Overdue reforms should give proper representation to and increase the say of the emerging and developing economies," Yi Xianrong, a researcher with the Institute of Economics and Finances at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a government think-tank, wrote in the government newspaper China Daily.
"Proper representation and a bigger voice for the developing countries are the need of the hour. For instance, being the world's third-largest economy and the largest foreign reserves holder, China should get its due place in the monetary body."
Another idea Yi raised was that the U.S. and Europe should give up their traditional privileges of appointing the heads of the World Bank and the IMF.
The idea of a creating a new global reserve currency isn't new. But analysts say the proposal isn't likely to gain much traction because it faces major obstacles. It would require acceptance from nations that have long used the dollar and hold huge stockpiles of the U.S. currency.
"There has been for decades talk about creating an international reserve currency and it has never really progressed," said Michael Pettis, a finance professor at Peking University's Guanghua School of Management.
Managing such a currency would require balancing the contradictory needs of countries with high and low growth or with trade surpluses or deficits, Pettis said. He said the 16 European nations that use the euro have faced "huge difficulties" in managing monetary policy even though their economies are similar.
"It's hard for me to imagine how it's going to be easier for the world to have a common currency for trade," he said.