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The Growing Presence of the Yuan

Takuma Yoshioka

Authorities in Beijing have taken a variety of measures to help the yuan become accepted around the world, and their efforts are starting to pay off.

Chinese money is funding a major initiative in Kazakhstan. It's part of an effort that officials in Beijing call the "One Belt, One Road" project. The money is used to build infrastructure and fund other investments abroad.

This railway hub connects China and Europe. Beijing provided most of the funds for the work in yuan. Other projects include highways, tunnels, and even hotels.

"China is crucial to the development of the Central Asian region."
Sabr Yessimbekov / Chairman, Kazakhstan Foreign Trade Chamber

Another proving ground for the yuan lies in Hong Kong, one of China's "Special Administrative Regions."

Hong Kong is said to be the world's biggest trading center for the Chinese yuan. Many of exchange stores here are eager to accept the currency.

Under the policy of "1 country, 2 systems," its official currency remains the Hong Kong dollar. But as tourism and business ties between the 2 sides grow, it's more common to see people exchanging dollars and yuan.

As residents in Hong Kong grow more familiar with the yuan, they're looking for opportunities to manage their assets in the currency.

Helen Mak works at a real estate agency. Five years ago, she opened a short-term deposit account in yuan at a Hong Kong based bank.

The deposit was worth about $113,000 US. Mak says she was attracted by the high interest rate of more than 5%. She says she's very confident that in the next 10 or 20 years, the yuan will be the currency of the world.

People in Hong Kong have flocked to yuan-based banking since authorities first allowed it 11 years ago. Financial institutions and individuals hold deposits totaling about 900 billion yuan, or $140 billion US.

Investors are also becoming interested in Dim Sum bonds. They're bought in Hong Kong dollars, but redeemed in yuan. More than $100 billion US worth have been issued since they first appeared 8 years ago.

Hong Kong's top finance official believes the yuan is ready to take its place on the world stage.

"We are at the beginning of a very exciting new era of China growth and internationalization of the renminbi, and there is a tremendous growth opportunity and potential associated with this process."
Norman Chan / Chief Executive, Hong Kong Monetary Authority

The IMF's decision to accept the yuan as a reserve currency may lead investors around the world to follow Hong Kong's example.

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