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20 May, 2024 15:17

China offloads record amount of dollar assets – data

Beijing has sold $53.3 billion in US securities, according to Treasury Department data
China offloads record amount of dollar assets – data

China sold a record number of US bonds in the first quarter of this year, highlighting the country’s shift away from dollar assets, the latest data from the US Treasury Department reveals.

Beijing has divested a total of $53.3 billion in Treasuries and agency bonds combined in the first three months of the year, while at the same time increasing its purchases of gold and other commodities, data showed.

Some analysts have suggested that this reduction in foreign exchange reserves could be part of China’s broader strategy to diversify away from US dollar-denominated assets amid rising geopolitical tensions with the US.

Some experts have pointed to the economic impact of Western sanctions on Russia following the Ukraine conflict, saying that China seeks to mitigate similar risks.

“The handling of Russian reserves by the US and other G7 countries, including threats of expropriations and sanctions, likely prompted China to reduce its exposure to US Treasury assets to avoid being similarly targeted,” Craig Shapiro, a macroeconomic adviser at LaDuc Trading, told Newsweek on Saturday, referring to the seizure of Russian assets.

The West has frozen roughly $300 billion in Russian sovereign funds since the start of the Ukraine conflict.

The Brussels-based clearinghouse Euroclear, often seen as a custodian of China’s holdings, disposed of $22 billion in US Treasuries during the reporting period, according to Bloomberg.

As the second largest foreign holder of US Treasury securities after Japan, China’s sell-off could potentially unsettle the Treasury market and raise US borrowing costs, some economists argued.

“As China is selling both despite the fact that we are closer to a Fed rate-cut cycle, there should be a clear intention of diversifying away from US dollar holdings,” said Stephen Chiu, chief Asia foreign-exchange and rates strategist at Bloomberg Intelligence. “China’s selling of US securities could speed up as the US-China trade war resumes” especially if Trump returns as president, he said.

While China is selling dollar assets, its holdings of gold have surged in the country’s official reserves. The share of the precious metal in reserves climbed to 4.9% in April, the highest since records began in 2015, according to the People’s Bank of China.

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