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On the message boards at the popular Sohu.com portal, commentators vilified the move as a sellout that betrayed long-standing government claims that the exchange rate was not a problem. Some commentaries there and other forums were removed quickly by censors drilled to stymie criticism of the government or discussion of sensitive topics.

Beijing has kept the yuan frozen against the dollar to help Chinese manufacturers compete amid weak global demand. Under pressure from its trading partners, China began letting the yuan appreciate gradually against the U.S. dollar in 2005 but halted that abruptly in 2008 as the global financial crisis took hold.

Since then, the yuan’s value has remained at roughly 6.83 to the dollar.

Economists have said they expect China to permit a gradual appreciation of the yuan while keeping trading within a narrow band of just a few fractions of a percent each day.