Official data from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) shows the country’s gold reserves have not increased since 2016. They stayed unchanged at 59.24 million ounces since October 2016, or 1,843 metric tons.
As of the end of June, the PBOC valued its reserves at $74.1 billion.
Although China comes in sixth for most gold held, the precious metal accounts for merely 2.4% of its foreign reserves, compared with more than 70% in Germany and the U.S., World Gold Council data show.
Analysts, however, have raised doubts that Beijing has really stopped accumulating gold. They claim a potential trade war with the U.S. that threatens growth, simmering tensions on the Korean peninsula and this year’s slump in gold prices are reasons to buy. Moving away from the U.S. dollar is a strategic priority for countries like China and Russia.
This wouldn’t be the first time the central bank has kept silent while adding to its stash. In 2015, for the first update in six years, the PBOC announced a 57% jump in reserves to 53.3 million ounces. In 2009, the country said it bought 14.6 million ounces since 2003.
According to experts, China has much more gold than the official figure of 1,843 tons. The actual Chinese gold reserve could amount to around 20,000 tons. If it has that deep a gold reserve, Beijing can take on the US dollar by using gold for international trade.