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Pressure on Yuan Prompts Call to Spur Capital Outflows
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China should push capital outflows and restrain inflows to mitigate pressures on the yuan to rise, the country's top statistics bureau said yesterday.


Authorities need to urge enterprises to invest abroad while properly curbing the influx of funds and reducing foreign-exchange supply to quell speculation of the yuan's appreciation, the National Bureau of Statistics said in an analysis on its Website.


The country also needs an efficient market-based mechanism for foreign currency exchange, the bureau said.


Faced with torrid economic growth fueled by investments and exports, the government has tried to create more channels for outbound capital and rein in speculative money inflows that bet on the yuan's climb.


China has the world's biggest foreign exchange reserves worth a total of US$941 billion as of June 30. It has prompted regulators to let banks and brokers invest clients' money abroad as well as restrict foreign capital into the nation's property market.


The yuan has climbed a less-than-expected 1.6 percent since July 2005, when the government scrapped a decade-old peg to the US dollar. The yuan is now managed against a basket of currencies.


Firm growth in the economy and money supply -- despite hikes in interest rates and bank reserves -- is stoking speculation the central bank may allow the yuan to appreciate in order to curb excess liquidity.


"Hot money" into China has soared 12 times from US$1.02 billion in February to US$12.5 billion in May, the statistics bureau said.


China also has to diversify its forex reserves to reduce the risk of losses linked to the depreciation of the US dollar, the statement said. The country now holds more than 70 percent of its reserves in US government treasuries.


"The US dollar may continue to soften, raising the risks of foreign-exchange losses in our currency reserves," the bureau said. Anticipation of the dollar's fall "can also prop up expectations the yuan will advance."


China could buy more gold or oil with its forex reserves to counter a possible devaluation of its US dollar-backed assets, central bank analysts said in a June report.


Using some of the forex reserves to buy gold could "maintain and raise the value of China's dollar holdings," said the report.


(Shanghai Daily July 26, 2006)


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