China has thus far accumulated the majority of its gold reserves by purchasing supply from its domestic mining industry, but the country’s consumption is changing fast.
Imports from Hong Kong have surged this year, and regulation changes have recently allowed China to become a far larger player in the global gold market. In August the Chinese central bank said it would permit banks to export and import more gold as a means to develop the country’s precious metals market.
It wouldn’t take much Chinese activity to make a big impact:
“The way they will accumulate a massive amount of gold is by opening up imports and making sure there is heck a lot of gold swishing around in the domestic market,” said Mark Pervan, a senior commodities analyst at ANZ.
“It’s just too big a player in the market. Investors are looking for any signs of China buying gold on the world market. If Beijing said it was buying 100 tonnes, prices would leap, not because of this 100 tonnes, but because of the 300 tonnes the market would expect to follow.”