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China is working hard to support its currency — it sold US government bonds for six straight months

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Unstable yuan could create a viscious circle: Asia Development Bank President

China is selling U.S. Treasurys at a record pace, indicating continued pressure to support the yuan and keep money from leaving the country.

In continuous selling over the six months through November, China sold $194.66 billion of Treasurys and over the previous 12 months, sold $215.11 billion. Both figures are records, according to Reuters.

The People's Bank of China "is intervening in this particular case for a very specific reason, that they want to mitigate the downside pressure on the RMB [Chinese yuan] coming from" capital outflows, said Benn Steil, senior fellow and director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

"They are very concerned unless the RMB is stable there will be a self-perpetuating acceleration of outflows," he said.

No one knows exactly how much or how quickly money is leaving China, but anecdotes and financial reports suggest the strain is significant.