How Much Gold Does China Have?

China’s gold holding is highly significant because it will determine when China might be able to advance a partially gold-backed renminbi as a credible new reserve currency, to supplant (or compete with) the dollar. The usual figure given, for official Chinese holding, is about 1,000 tons. The analysis below suggests that the real official holding is in excess of 1500 tons, with total holding, nation-wide, of about 7,000 tons. Note also that gold production within China is now approaching 400 tons per year. At that rate, a large reserve can be developed in not too many years.

I suspect, but cannot prove, that China’s official holding is much larger that 1500 tons. It is the kind of thing that they would want to lie about, in order to appear weak — until the moment of truth, which is probably not far away.

The link is to a pdf file; snippets are below.


How Much Gold Does China Have?

September 19 2012

Posted By Bron Suchecki


On the 24th of April 2009, China announced that it had increased its gold reserves 75% from 600 tonnes to 1,054 tonnes. What made the announcement unusual was the six year gap in reporting, given the previous two changes were in December 2002 (99.2 tonnes added) and December 2001 (105.7 tonnes added).

In addition, the World Gold Council’s (WGC) quarterly gold reserves reports notes that the purchase of the 454 tonnes took place over the January 2003 to April 2009 period, so it wasn’t a one-off purchase. It is clear China moved from a regular reporting schedule to a more strategic approach.

It has now been 3½ years without any indication from China as to the size of their gold reserves. With imports of gold into China, and gold production within China, having increased significantly over the past few years it raises the question of how much gold has China been accumulating since 2009?

To answer that question, in this Perth Mint Treasury paper we will look at China’s gold mining and importing activities and estimate how much of that is held by the government versus privately.

[chart: depicts mining production in China, from practically nothing in 1980 to nearly 400 tons/year, currently]


[B]y 1980, when Chinese gold production began its rise, there
was little gold held in China. An estimate of Chinese gold stocks can then be made by adding accumulated gold production since 1980 of 5,255 tonnes to our net import estimate of 1,100 tonnes, giving 6,355 tonnes.

This figure is confirmed by the Sang Shang article, which states that “the total amount of gold held by both private citizens and the government reserves amounts to between 4000-5000 tons of gold.” This article was from 2007. Gold production and imports from 2008 onwards is 2,436 tonnes, giving a figure of between 6,436 to 7,436 tonnes.

For comparison, Indians are said to hold 18,000 tonnes2. With comparable populations, this means China’s per capita gold stocks are well below India’s: 0.1516 ounces per person versus 0.4782 ounces.


[W]e…suggest that a reasonable estimation of China’s current [official] gold reserves would be 1,560 tonnes.

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