It comes as no surprise that the Chinese want to swap some of their U.S. dollar holdings for dumb 'ol gold bars, but the amount is a bit of a shock. Numismaster has the details:
It wasn't until about June 9 that the mainstream media was told that the Chinese government was planning to purchase an additional huge quantity of gold. The information became public when U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) was interviewed on Fox News by Greta Van Susteren.
Kirk accompanied Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on his trip to China in May. While the Chinese were laughing at Geithner during his speech at Beijing University for claiming that the U.S. dollar was strong (By the way, laughing at a speaker is a major social no-no in China, a sign that Geithner's comments were not respected at all!), Kirk was engaged in a private conversation with lesser Chinese officials. In this non-public discussion, Kirk was told that the Chinese were extremely concerned about the likely near term decline in the U.S. dollar because of the explosion of government debt. As part of the reaction to this concern, the Chinese government had established another reserve to stockpile petroleum and was planning to purchase another $80 billion of gold (about 85 million ounces at today's price level).
Kirk's revelation about the Chinese plan to purchase another $80 billion of gold was the very last comment in the interview. This extraordinary news received almost no coverage until last week when multiple hard-asset Web sites picked up the interview.
The Chinese are different than the Japanese in many ways - this is one of those ways...