China and Russia have been quietly accumulating gold as a reserve to back up their currencies in the future, according to Ronan Manly, of Singapore’s BullionStar. This is likely to be part of a designed strategy to move away from international trade denominated in US dollars.
The US dollar, like many currencies, is no longer backed by gold reserves, although there is some disquiet about how much gold the United States has in its reserves, including amounts held on behalf of other countries, such as Germany and France.
“China and Russia have both been aggressively accumulating their official gold reserves over the last 10 – 15 years”, Manly said, adding that only a decade ago each of them held around or less than 400 tons”. “But now both these nations hold a combined 3,670 tons of gold.”
“Interestingly, both Russia and China publicize and promote their accumulations of gold and publicly refer to gold as a strategic monetary asset. They make no secret of this. But on the flip side, the US does the opposite, and constantly downplays the strategic role of gold.”
According to Manly, for Russia and China, gold is the only strategic monetary asset that could provide independence from the US dollar, and that China and Russia could both conceivably be holding a lot more gold than they declare in their official reserves due to many channels through which they could buy the precious metal.
Both countries have also actively been looking to acquire new gold via mining. China is already the world’s largest producer, mining 473.6 tons in 2016, and has recently announced discovery of its largest deposits, based in Shandong Province, and worth an estimated US$22 billion. Russia, meanwhile, is the world’s fourth largest producer with an annual capacity of about 200 tons. Both, China and Russia, are also major shareholders in the Silk Road Gold Fund based in Shanghai, which lends money to countries across the Silk Road for mining development, splitting the proceeds with the country concerned.
Manly summarized: “If China and Russia showed that they held more gold on a combined basis than the US, this would, even symbolically, be a blow to the US dollar and to the position of the US in the global economy.”
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