'While all Asian currencies bar the South Korean won gained yesterday, the focus was on the yuan's historic breakthrough.' SCMP headline, April 11 History is very short, I see. The yuan was stronger than six to the US dollar only 15 years ago but we now have a historic breakthrough with this exchange rate stage-managed to stronger than seven to the US dollar. Confused? It gets a little confusing sometimes, doesn't it? Weak, strong, which way is up and which way is down with these exchange rates? Let me confuse you some more by showing you how strong the yuan is. Back in 2001 it was trading at seven. It is now at more than 11. Oops, that's actually the yuan exchange rate against the euro I have in this chart. In 2001 you could briefly get 7 yuan for a euro. Now you can get more than 11. And that actually makes the yuan weak and getting weaker against the euro. If you can get more yuan for a euro than you could get earlier then it's the euro that is strong. You have to watch out for these currency charts. Up usually means weaker and down means stronger unless you make the scale stand upside down. And lest you think it is pointless to talk about yuan/euro exchange rate, I refer you to the second chart. It shows you that the mainland now exports more to the European Union than it does to the United States. It has always been true of imports that the EU figured larger than the US. It is now true of exports as well. I grant you that the chart is derived from figures published by the National Statistics Bureau in Beijing and this is not a source that is about to challenge the Bible on infallibility. The US figures for imports from China are significantly greater than Beijing's. It is also true that the greatest bulk of the mainland's trade continues to be denominated in US dollars. Beijing publishes its trade figures in US dollar terms rather than in yuan and this is more than just a convenience. Most of that trade really is dollar based, not only in terms of the currency in which exports are invoiced, but in the base cost of the required raw materials and component goods. Yet it's worth pointing out that when we speak of yuan strength we are always speaking of the yuan's exchange rate against the US dollar, ignoring that what we have here is not so much yuan strength as general US dollar weakness against the world's other major currencies. 'A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity doesn't come very often' Olympics advertisement, April 11 So ... ah ... how often does it come then, more or less, so to speak, roundabout? A friend pointed this one out to me on Friday and I just couldn't resist. On Thursday I wrote for Friday's column that Cathay Pacific Airways had objected to the application by Oasis Hong Kong for an air operator's certificate. I then picked up Friday's newspaper to see a letter from Cathay Pacific's chief executive Tony Tyler saying the airline had done nothing of the sort. Okay, I take that one back. It does leave me with one observation, however. Why didn't you object to it, Tony? I suppose it would have made you look like a bit of a bully to have done so but you run services on Oasis' two routes to London and Vancouver and you had to know that Oasis' chances of making a go of it were mighty slim. If all the ears in the right places were determined at the time to remain closed to any criticism of the Reverend Raymond Lee Cho-min's airline, and I grant you they may have been, then, very well, there is nothing anyone could have done. But if any of those ears were open then Cathay Pacific might have done thousands of people a service by doing its bit to restrain a reckless operator from taking their money and destroying their holidays and family visits.