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Throwing cold water on hot money

By Xin Zhiming | China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-25 07:59

The Chinese economy has become very attractive to speculative hot money. But by allowing the yuan to rise strongly, the authorities cause doubts whether the challenge is handled in a proper and coordinated manner.

Despite the slowing of its economy in the first quarter, foreign capital has been flowing into China to cash in on yuan appreciation and relatively high interest rates.

It is difficult to calculate the exact scale. However, some indicators, such as its foreign exchange purchases and value of exports, cast light on the abnormal influx of capital.

The country's new foreign exchange purchases an indicator for monitoring capital inflows amounted to 1.2 trillion yuan ($193.5 billion) in the first quarter, a huge increase on the 500 billion yuan for the whole of 2012.

According to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, China had a surplus of more than $100 billion in its capital and financial accounts in the first quarter, compared with $20 billion for the fourth quarter of 2012.

Moreover, the jump in export growth in April, which was 14.7 percent year-on-year, is far higher than market expectations of about 10 percent, resulting in a 114.5-billion-yuan trade surplus. In March, China registered a trade deficit of 7.24 billion yuan.

These abnormal changes indicate an undefined amount of speculative money has been flowing into China.

Estimates put the speculative cash inflows over the first quarter between $100 billion to $181 billion.

In the past, the monetary authorities used to routinely deny such inflows, but this time they have issued new rules to try and thwart them.

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