The Chinese yuan, also known as the renminbi, is already convertible under the current account - the broadest measure of trade in goods and services. However, the capital account, which covers portfolio investment and borrowing, is still closely managed by Beijing because of worries about abrupt capital flows.
Minimum prices for industrial land to rise next year
Mainland authorities will raise minimum prices for industrial-use land from next year in an attempt to rein in runaway investment.
The Ministry of Land and Resources has issued minimum prices for industrial land across the nation, ranging from 60 yuan per square metre in the west to 840 yuan per square metre for prime Shanghai locations.
Shanghai's nine downtown districts are ranked in the first, highest-price grade. The city's Pudong district and Beijing's eight districts fall into the second category with a floor price of 720 yuan per square metre, followed by 600 yuan in Shenzhen and Guangzhou.
The country's western areas, including Tibet and Yunnan , are the lowest priced of the 15 categories at 60 yuan per square metre.
'The new standards are significantly higher than the current price for industrial land,' the ministry said on its website, without providing additional details about the increase.
The ministry said there was a serious problem with some local governments selling land for industrial projects very cheaply or even at 'zero price'.
Investment and economic growth are key performance indicators for local governments, so many grass-roots authorities take land at low prices from farmers and transfer the land-use rights to industry.
The National Audit Office said that in the 87 development zones it surveyed across the nation, 60 had sold a total of 78.7 million square metres of land cheaply between 2003 and the middle of last year at a loss of 5.56 billion yuan.
The land ministry said the unreasonably low prices had undercut the central government's efforts to curb growth in fixed-asset investment. The low prices had also eaten away at the amount of land held by the state and infringed on farmers' rights by failing to maximise their income from the sales.
More than 40 million farmers had lost their land to industrial and other projects during the past 10 years and the number was growing by 3 million a year, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security said. Many farmers have tried to petition central authorities about their low compensation.
The directive might dampen development in poor areas, but it was uncertain whether local governments would obey the order, said Yi Xianrong of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.