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One of the surest bets on China is starting to look a bit shaky.
For the past nine years, each business day at 9 in the morning, government workers in Shanghai’s Pudong financial district have published a benchmark number that tells the world what their country’s currency will be worth that day, compared with the US dollar.
More often than not, the staff of the China Foreign Exchange Trade System has assigned a value to the currency, the renminbi, slightly stronger than it had finished the previous day. Thanks to the guiding hand of the Chinese state, the renminbi today is about 25 percent stronger than it was in July 2005.
But recent developments suggest such strengthening is no longer the certainty it once appeared to be.