China is moving forward with plans to issue its first sovereignbonds in dollars since 2004 in a deal that will put a symbolic sealof approval on the booming offshore Asian debt market.

The Ministry of Finance was scheduled to meet with bankers inBeijing Wednesday to discuss the sale, according to people familiarwith the plans. The deal is aimed for as soon as this month,according to the people, who asked not to be named as the specificsaren't public. The MOF said in a statement it will sell $2 billionworth of notes.

While China's government doesn't need to borrow offshore, with adomestic debt market that's now the world's third-largest, itsbonds will provide a new benchmark for pricing the country'sstate-owned enterprises. A successful deal will pull down thoseborrowing costs, and may fuel further sales after what's beenrecord issuance so far this year.

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