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China welcomes IMF backing to make yuan world reserve currency

BEIJING: China welcomed backing from International Monetary Fund (IMF) experts that the yuan should be included in its reserve currencies, saying the move would strengthen the world’s financial system.

Now the world’s second-largest economy, China asked last year for the yuan to be added to the elite basket of SDR currencies, but until recently it was considered too tightly controlled to qualify.

It now looks likely the yuan will be formally admitted to the IMF’s “special drawing rights” currency basket at the end of the month, which would mark a milestone in China’s efforts to become a global economic power.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the fund now deemed the yuan “meets the requirements to be a ‘freely usable’ currency” — a key hurdle to joining the yen, dollar, pound and euro as a leading unit in international trade.

The yuan hit headlines in August when China’s central bank devalued the currency and said it would use a more market-oriented system to calculate the point around which the currency can trade each day.

The move sent markets into a tailspin as investors took it as a sign of slowing growth in China, a key driver of the world economy, but the central bank on Saturday said such reforms had taken it closer to joining the SDR basket.

“China thinks that the inclusion of the RMB (yuan) into the SDR basket will strengthen the representativeness and the attraction of the SDR (and) that it will improve the existing international monetary system,” the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) added.

“It will have win-win benefits both for China and the world.”

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