Suifenhe, a city in southeastern Heilongjiang province near the Russian border, has secured approval from the State Council to use the Russian rouble along with the renminbi, Xinhua news agency reported Sunday, citing local government sources. Under the pilot scheme, the Russian currency can be freely deposited and withdrawn at local banks, and used by people in paying their bills within the city. This is the first time since the founding of the People’s Republic of China that a foreign currency is allowed to function on a par with renminbi in a designated area within its territory, the report said. An official of the local branch of the central bank said the new policy would help crack down on black market transactions of the currency and place the exchanges under proper regulation. It would also pave the way for a direct exchange rate between renminbi and the Russian rouble, and help promote renminbi use in Russian cities, analysts were quoted as saying.
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