Why the Chinese Currency Took the Spotlight

China’s market turmoil since the start of the new year has put the spotlight on a not-much-noticed quirk of trading the mainland’s currency: the offshore yuan doesn’t always want to stay in tune with its onshore peer.

What’s the difference between the onshore and the offshore yuan?

While China has slowly been opening its markets, the country still doesn’t allow a completely free flow of capital across its borders. The onshore yuan, also called the renminbi, is constrained by a trading band: China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), lets the yuan spot rate rise or fall a maximum of 2 percent against the dollar, relative to the official fixing rate, which is set daily.

But the offshore yuan, abbreviated as the CNH, trades freely, based on market forces.

The offshore market was created in 2010 to help “internationalize” the currency for purposes such as hedging and investment, but not trade. Trade settlement can be done through a designated clearing bank in Hong Kong.


This article is for general information purposes only. It is not investment advice or a solution to buy or sell securities. Opinions are the authors; not necessarily that of OANDA Corporation or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, officers or directors. Leveraged trading is high risk and not suitable for all. You could lose all of your deposited funds.

Craig Erlam

Craig Erlam

Senior Currency Analyst at OANDA
Based in London, England, Craig Erlam joined OANDA in 2015 as a Market Analyst. With more than five years' experience as a financial market analyst and trader, he focuses on both fundamental and technical analysis while conducting macroeconomic commentary. He has been published by The Financial Times, Reuters, the Wall Street Journal and The Telegraph, and he also appears regularly as a guest commentator on networks including Sky News, Bloomberg, CNBC and BBC. Craig holds a full membership to the Society of Technical Analysts and he is recognized as a Certified Financial Technician by the International Federation of Technical Analysts.