Mainland officials have been highly consistent on foreign exchange policy - keeping the yuan stable. But a deviation has occurred recently. China Briefing, an English-language magazine owned by consultancy Dezan Shira & Associates, reported on February 17 that Zhang Xiaoqiang, the deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), had commented that the yuan might drop as low as seven against the US dollar because of a weaker mainland economy. Mr Zhang's remarks would have meant an up to 2.4 per cent depreciation of the yuan by the end of the year, based on the Shanghai closing price of 6.834 yuan per dollar on February 16. The news, which was carried by several international news services, triggered a steep fall in the yuan forwards market on February 17. The next day, the magazine issued two clarifications, the first of which claimed the comment was not made by Mr Zhang but by Liu Mingkang, head of the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC). Then, it withdrew the statement and replaced it with one saying the comments could not be attributed to either official. Both the commissions denied the report, stating that their officials had not been interviewed about the yuan. A China Briefing source told the South China Morning Post that the contentious part of the quote was indeed Mr Zhang's original words, yet were 'meant to be off the record'. 'But apparently the translator didn't get the message across to the [author],' he said. The author of the article, Chris Devonshire-Ellis, could not be reached for comment. Zhao Xijun, a professor with Renmin University in Beijing, said: 'No matter what the truth is, it is the central bank which governs the exchange rates, instead of the NDRC or the CBRC.' How Beijing will react to voices from various groups at the National People's Congress remains to be seen.