BEIJING (Reuters) - China's trade minister proposed more use of China's currency in settling trade with Russia in the face of a falling rouble to ensure safe and reliable trade, Hong Kong broadcaster Phoenix TV reported on Saturday.
The rouble has fallen about 45 percent against the dollar this year, and suffered particularly steep falls early last week. President Vladimir Putin has declined to call it a crisis and said it would eventually rise again.
Chinese Minister of Commerce Gao Hucheng said the use of China's yuan, or renminbi, has been increasing for several years but western sanctions on Russia had made the trend more prominent, Phoenix TV said on its website news.ifeng.com.
Gao said China and Russia were capable of achieving this year's trade target of $100 billion. Last year, trade between the two gained 1.1 percent at $89.2 billion, according to Chinese customs figures.
"Capital investors may be more interested in a volatile stock or foreign exchange market. But in terms of concrete cooperations (between the two nations), we shall have a balanced mentality and push forward those cooperations," Gao was quoted as saying.
Cooperation on energy and manufacturing projects would not be greatly affected by the situation in Russia, Gao said. China would instead focus on fundamental factors such as how the two economies complement each other, he said.
For China, curtailing the influence of the dollar fits well with its ambitions to increase the influence of the yuan and eventually turn it into a global reserve currency.
With 32 percent of its $4 trillion foreign exchange reserves invested in U.S. government debt, China wants to curb investment risks in the dollar.
Reporting by Chen Aizhu and Huang Kai; Editing by Robert Birsel