China's one hundred yuan. Photo: iStock
China's digital currency is taking shape. Photo: iStock

The People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, is revising a law to make way for issuing the country’s digital currency, and the public will be able to exchange the new type of money only at certain qualified commercial banks, according to officials and analysts.

Nonbank payment service providers, such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, will not be allowed to provide digital currency exchange or cash deposit services, according to an official from the PBoC.

Alipay and WeChat Pay are part of the financial infrastructure and can be seen as the “wallets” of digital yuan. The public can still use these electronic payment platforms for paying with digital currency, said Mu Changchun, head of the PBoC’s digital currency research institute.

The central bank will maintain the centralized currency management system for digital yuan and will be the only institution to determine the currency issuance amount and design and to issue regulations and technical and security standards.

The PBoC is also in charge of the management of information related to digital yuan, Mu said on the sidelines of the 2020 Bund Summit in Shanghai on Sunday.

Hainan’s free trade port

The government of China’s southern island province of Hainan moved a step forward by unveiling new guidelines to widen market access and lower barriers to trade, investment and cross-border capital flows.

The guidelines listed 18 action plans with a total of 60 missions that involve promoting institutional innovation, streamlining administrative approval procedures, facilitating free trade and investment and the free flow of capital and talent, building an efficient logistics system and protecting data security.

The goal is to build the island into a free trade port with an efficient and sound legal system, an internationally competitive tax system and a first-class business environment and social governance that will attract more companies and investors and help boost the industrial competitiveness and development quality of the island, according to the guidelines.

The Hainan Pilot Free Trade Port will implement a zero-tariff policy for goods trade and will further reduce barriers for the services trade. Meanwhile, the free trade port will adopt a negative list for the management of imported products.

Another prominent feature of the new guidelines is that the free trade port will explore further liberalization of the capital account step by step and will launch a pilot qualified foreign limited partner program, and a qualified domestic limited partner program.

The pilot programs will allow both foreign and domestic investors to engage in cross-border investment more freely. The island will also build a new management system for cross-border financing to encourage more efficient two-way capital flows.

Industrial profits

Profits of China’s major industrial firms increased 10.1% to 646.43 billion yuan (US$96.5 billion) in September from a year ago, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Tuesday. The growth narrowed 9 percentage points from August.

In the first nine months of the year, profits of major industrial firms declined 2.4% to 4.37 trillion yuan, narrowing 2 percentage points from the January-August period. For the same period, profits of state-controlled industrial firms dropped 14.3% from a year earlier to 1.13 trillion yuan, while those of private ones shrank 0.5% year-on-year to 1.27 trillion yuan.

During the first three quarters, profits of the mining industry slumped 37.2%, while the manufacturing industry’s profits reversed the downward trend by gaining 1.1%.

Profits in 21 of the 41 surveyed industrial sectors rose from the same period last year, while 20 sectors saw their profits fall, according to the NBS. Major industrial companies refer to those with an annual business turnover of at least 20 million yuan.

Company news

China’s Ant Group on Monday set the price for its initial public offering (IPO) on the Shanghai Stock Exchange at 68.8 yuan per share, according to the official website of the stock exchange.

The group’s mega dual-listing on the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong is believed to be the world’s biggest IPO ever.

The group also set the price for the Hong Kong stock exchange at HK$80 ($10.32) per share. Ant has a market value of 2.1 trillion yuan based on its IPO price.

The stories were compiled by Nadeem Xu and Shan Hui and first published at

Xu Yuenai is a Beijing-based columnist specializing in international relations.