Trucks carrying copper and other goods wait to enter an area of the Shanghai free trade zone. Photo: Reuters/Carlos Barria
Trucks carrying copper and other goods wait to enter an area of the Shanghai free trade zone. Photo: Reuters/Carlos Barria

China’s central bank will crack down on capital flight and closely monitor abnormal capital flows as it pushes financial reforms in Shanghai’s free trade zone, a senior official said on Wednesday.

Shanghai will strive to expand net money inflows through zone accounts, with many Chinese banks offering incentives to encourage individuals and companies to convert US dollars into yuan.

Zhang Xin, deputy head of the People’s Bank of China Shanghai headquarters, told a news conference that the central bank would step up anti-money laundering, and “under the current circumstances, will strengthen crackdowns on foreign currency flight and step up monitoring abnormal capital flows.”

The yuan has lost more than 3% of its value against the dollar since the end of September, pushed down by a resurgent dollar that has gained further strength since the surprise election of Donald Trump as US president.

In a report on Tuesday, Capital Economics estimated that capital outflows last month were the largest since January, and posed a threat to China’s exchange rate regime.

As part of measures to lure inflows, many Chinese lenders have been offering “preferential policies” to buyers of the Chinese currency, Zhou Hehua, vice president of Bank of China’s Shanghai branch, said on the sidelines of the PBOC’s news conference.

The Shanghai free trade zone was launched in 2013 to promote international trade and cross-border investment, but three years later the city government is trying to balance efforts to accelerate financial reforms in the zone while preventing capital outflows.

Encourage innovation

Beijing is under increasing pressure to stem capital outflows against the backdrop of a slowing domestic economy and a sharply strengthening US dollar, which is being propelled by expectations that President-elect Donald Trump will boost US growth and push up interest rates.

On Wednesday, the government announced a series of reform measures in the Shanghai free trade zone to encourage innovation and cross-border investment.

The measures included allowing private equity funds and projects in the zone to raise capital there as well as overseas, and use the proceeds for cross-border investments.

In addition, multinational firms will be allowed to set up onshore cross-border yuan capital pools using Shanghai zone accounts to manage yuan holdings globally.