While an overseas buying spree by Chinese companies has grabbed headlines, more mundane activity such as trade finance and corporate cash management are a much bigger strain on China’s foreign exchange reserves, analysis of official data shows. The dominance of bank lending and portfolio investment as a source of Chinese capital outflows casts doubt on whether Beijing’s recent clampdown on big-ticket foreign deals by the likes of Dalian Wanda and Anbang Insurance can shield the renminbi from downward pressure, intensified by the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate rise on Thursday. Bank lending and securities investment accounted for $301bn in net outflows from China in the first nine months of the year, compared with $78bn from outbound foreign direct investment, according to Financial Times analysis of balance-of-payments data.
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