China has for the first time revealed its secret about returns on investment from its foreign exchange reserves and how many U.S. dollars are in the forex stockpile—a factor seen to help it influence U.S. financial markets.
South China Morning Post citing a report from China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said forex reserves generated an annual average return of 3.68 percent from 2005 to 2014 for the country.
In the 2018 annual report released on Sunday, July 28, SAFE also indicated U.S. dollar-denominated assets accounted for 58 percent of China’s forex reserves by the end of 2014, down from 79 percent in 2005. The agency added the share of U.S. currency in its stockpile was lower than the global average of 65 percent in 2014.
Latest data China showed had $3.12 trillion in forex reserves as of the end of June 2019 – remaining the largest in the world.
Based on that number, and if U.S. dollar assets still account for 58 percent of forex structure, China would be sitting on about $1.8 trillion worth of US currency as of the end of June.
China’s largest share in forex reserves is U.S. dollar assets, especially U.S. Treasury bonds. That raises debate over whether China could dump its holdings of U.S. assets to disrupt U.S. financial markets in case of disputes.
But first, China needs to save its foreign currency reserves as a financial buffer as showed in recent market turmoil.
After peaking at nearly $4 trillion in mid-2014, China started to reduce its forex reserves. They fell by about $1 trillion in about a year after the country’s stock market rout in the summer of 2015 triggered a capital exodus.