It is encouraging citizens to put at least 5% of their savings into precious metals.
The Chinese government is telling people gold and silver are good investments that will safeguard their wealth. After last year's meltdown in the stock market, people believe it. After all, Chinese citizens don't receive government retirement money. . .and they don't have company pension plans like people in many other countries do.
This is why folks in China are lining up outside of banks, post offices, and the new official mint stores to buy gold and silver (they especially like silver because it's cheaper per ounce).
The Chinese attitude toward gold and silver is a striking contrast to the American attitude right now. I don't recall a TV or radio ad from my congressman or President Obama encouraging me to buy gold or silver. Does your bank sell silver bars? Are gold mints popping up in your neighborhood? Are any of your friends, family, or coworkers scrambling to buy precious metals?
In spite of a few ads on television and satellite radio, buying gold and silver in the U.S. is still largely seen as a fringe-group activity. That's not the case in China. And in the big picture, there are three distinct trends occurring in China today that many in the Occidental world are not paying attention to.
First, look where China stands as a gold-producing nation.
In 2008, China produced 9,070,000 ounces of gold, exceeding all other countries. Further, its production continues to rise, while many of the top-producing countries are in decline.
Second, China had the lowest per-capita gold consumption of any country over the past half-century. This year, it is widely expected that Chinese demand for gold will surpass that of India. In other words, they'll also become the world's No. 1 retail buyer.
Third, the Chinese government has been using its foreign exchange reserves to buy gold—a lot of it—and doing so on the sly. This past April, Chinese officials made a surprise announcement that they had been secretly buying gold since 2003, increasing their gold reserves by 76% to 33,886,000 ounces. The Chinese government now owns 30 times the gold it held in 1990. And China is believed to be a leading candidate to buy some or all of the 12.9 million ounces the International Monetary Fund says it will sell.