China’s Central Bank Governor Zhou Xiaochuan said there was no basis for further decline in the value of the yuan and dismissed the need for stricter capital controls to stem the outflow of foreign exchange, according to an interview published Saturday in the mainland financial magazine, Caixin, local media reported.
Assuring the public that the exchange rate was basically stable against a basket of currencies, and the capital outflows seen in recent times were normal, Zhou said China has ample foreign exchange hoards to fulfill its trade commitments and to defend the stability of the Renminbi, South China Morning Post reported.
“It is normal for foreign reserves to rise and fall as long as the fundamentals face no problems,” Zhou said in his first public comments on the bank’s policy since it devalued the yuan by 2 percent in August.
China’s foreign-exchange reserves shrank in January to their lowest level since 2012, as the central bank continues to sell large sums of U.S. dollars to prop up its currency — currently at a 5-year low. Chinese financial markets will open Monday after the week-long Lunar New Year holiday.
"Zhou’s remarks are timely, filling a void in the market’s understanding of China’s strategy on the exchange rate at a critical moment," Tom Orlik, Bloomberg Intelligence’s Chief Asia Economist, told Bloomberg.
Zhou also said that China has no incentive to depreciate the currency to boost net exports. According to him, the country is committed to making progress with exchange-rate reform during its 13th Five-Year Plan, relying more on the market to determine prices. Zhou also warned that the bank will not let “speculative forces dominate market sentiment.”
According to estimates from Bloomberg Intelligence, capital outflows from China in 2015 amounted to about $1 trillion last year — more than seven times of the money that left the country in 2014.
China’s central bank has increased its intervention in the currency, stock and debt markets in its efforts to stem the exodus of capital. In December, the bank stepped in to the Hong Kong currency market after the yuan’s offshore exchange rate sank 2.9 percent lower than the exchange rate in the mainland.