- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 4, 2006

HONG KONG (AP) — A high-ranking Chinese official says China should stop buying U.S. Treasuries and take steps to reduce its holdings in those bonds, a Hong Kong newspaper reported yesterday.

China instead should increase imports from the United States, said Cheng Siwei, a vice chairman of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress, the Wen Wei Po reported.

Currency traders said the report caused some players to sell the U.S. dollar, prompting the currency to pull back from earlier gains. The dollar was trading at 117.68 yen yesterday in Tokyo, up 0.03 yen from Monday.

Analysts estimate that China invests about three-quarters of its foreign currency reserves — which last year rose to $818.9 billion — in U.S. Treasuries.

Mr. Cheng, who spoke at a conference in Hong Kong, also said U.S. restrictions on some high-tech, high-value exports to China have contributed to the trade imbalance between the two nations, the Chinese-language paper said. Last year, the U.S. reported a $202 billion trade deficit with China, a record with any country.

The official said that the short-term strategy for the Chinese currency’s regime is to widen the yuan’s trading band at an appropriate time, while keeping the currency stable and avoiding a buildup in foreign reserves, the paper reported.

Mr. Cheng said the long-term goal for the yuan is to reach full convertibility, though there is no timetable, the paper reported.

China’s central bank said yesterday that Mr. Cheng’s remarks on the country’s use of its foreign exchange reserves and yuan reform are his own and not representative of the bank’s position.

In July, China revalued the yuan, raising its value by 2.1 percent against the dollar and allowing it to trade in a restricted float. Still, the government exerts a great deal of control over the yuan’s value, and it has appreciated only about 1 percent since that time.

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