Why China resists foreign demands to revalue its currency

PRESIDENT Barack Obama, on his first visit to China this week, urged the government to allow its currency to rise. President Hu Jintao politely chose to ignore him. In recent weeks Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank, and Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, have also called for a stronger yuan. But China will adjust its currency only when it sees fit, not in response to foreign pressure.

China allowed the yuan to rise by 21% against the dollar in the three years to July 2008, but since then it has more or less kept the rate fixed. As a result, the yuan’s trade-weighted value has been dragged down this year by the sickly dollar, while many other currencies have soared. Since March the Brazilian real and the South Korean won have gained 42% and 36% respectively against the yuan, seriously eroding those countries’ competitiveness. …