Tags: CHINA | CURRENCY | YUAN | OBAMA | HU JINTAO | US DOLLAR

China Advisers: Greek Debt Crisis Won't Derail Yuan Reform

Wednesday, 05 May 2010 08:19 AM

Greece's debt woes give China good reason to proceed cautiously with currency reform, but, barring a crisis that shakes Europe, should not stand in the way of a resumption of appreciation, government advisers said on Wednesday.

Chinese officials have steadfastly argued that global uncertainties argue against a big rise in the yuan's exchange rate, a position that the Greek worries are serving to underline.

"China has to take the global economic environment into consideration in reforming the yuan's exchange rate. The Greece crisis will definitely have an impact, but, overall, it shouldn't be that big," said Ding Zhijie, a professor at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

First and foremost, the focus for yuan reform is still on China's own needs," said Ding, who advises the government.

Beijing has held the yuan steady at about 6.83 to the dollar since mid-2008, an attempt to cushion its economy from the global financial crisis that has faced heavy foreign criticism.

With Chinese inflation accelerating and exports recovering, many economists have predicted that the government could unshackle the yuan before the end of June, around the time of a Sino-U.S. summit this month or a G-20 meeting next month.

Investors have been betting on about a 3 percent yuan rise over the next year, though expectations for appreciation have weakened this week on fears that an international rescue package for Greece could fall short of what is needed.

But Zhang Yansheng, head of the economic research institute under the National Development and Reform Commission, a powerful planning agency, said the European turbulence would not blow Beijing off course.

"China will carry out yuan reform exclusively according to its own plan. The pace of reform will not be overly affected by external factors such as the Greek debt crisis," he said. "The cost of labor, land and resources are the key factors for China to consider when implementing yuan reform."

Economists at China International Capital Corp, the country's largest investment bank, said in a note to clients this week that the government was likely to let the yuan rise this quarter as part of a moderate tightening of monetary policy.

But these plans could be upset if Greek debt troubles take a turn for the worse and contaminate other European countries, they added.

For the time being, China appears to have reaped a political dividend from Greece's woes.

Earlier this year, with the worst of the financial crisis seemingly in the past, China faced a barrage of calls from abroad to abandon its de facto currency peg. This criticism has been more muted recently.

When European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso visited Beijing last week, he emphasized that China had confidence in the euro rather than to question its yuan policy.

It does not hurt that the yuan has strengthened steadily since late last year in trade-weighted terms, tracking the dollar higher against most currencies.

However, this will not make China complacent and the government is still focused on how to reform its currency regime, said Ding of the University of International Business and Economics.

"Pressure for yuan appreciation will remain, but the source of that pressure will change. As the global economic structure changes, it will not just be developed nations, but also developing nations that want this," he said.

"China will have to be proactive in confronting this, including starting up yuan appreciation again."


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Greece's debt woes give China good reason to proceed cautiously with currency reform, but, barring a crisis that shakes Europe, should not stand in the way of a resumption of appreciation, government advisers said on Wednesday. Chinese officials have steadfastly argued...
CHINA,CURRENCY,YUAN,OBAMA,HU JINTAO,US DOLLAR
565
2010-19-05
 

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