Beijing (AsiaNews) - The Hong Kong Census Bureau has reported that mainland China has imported 69.7 metric tonnes of gold, and is now among the top sovereign holders of gold. In the past few months, Beijing has taken advantage of lower gold prices to boost imports, averaging 50 to 60 tonnes a month, a six-fold increase from 2010.
This year, China has now imported 582 tons of gold, more than the official holdings of India at 558 tonnes, placing it among the Top 10 largest sovereign holders of gold.
Leading the pack are the United States (8,133 tonnes), Germania (3,395), the International Monetary Fund (2,814), Italy (2,451), and France (2,435). China follows with 1,054 tonnes.
Analysts believe that China's gold spree is due to two factors: a sharp drop in prices, from US$ 1,920.30 a troy ounce in September to a three-month low of US$ 1,534 an ounce later in the month, and as a hedge against inflation.
The Chinese government is buying gold to protect its assets, using its huge foreign currency reserves (US$ 3.3 trillion), against possible action by US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke that might cause hyperinflation and recession.