"That high cost of funding combined with more measures to restrict capital outflows" buoyed the yuan, noted Baig.
Economists at Citi also pointed to short-covering in the offshore yuan.
"We have often pointed out that tight offshore-yuan funding is a low-cost option for authorities to shake out speculative offshore-yuan shorts — because it poses a negligible risk to the mainland economy — and can thus be persisted with for longer than investors anticipate," Citi said in a note dated late Wednesday U.S. time.
It noted that shorting the offshore yuan -- or taking a long dollar/offshore yuan position -- had become "rather expensive."
The analysts cited several reasons for the sudden resilience of the offshore yuan.
"The widely-held view that pressure on the renminbi would intensify at the start of the year is being rapidly reassessed amidst persistently high funding costs in the offshore yuan, reports suggesting U.S. dollar sales by state-owned enterprises, stricter monitoring of capital outflows, and an apparent change in methodology for setting the daily dollar/yuan midpoint," Citi said.
In a previous note, Citi has said that policymakers appeared to be setting the midpoint for a slightly stronger yuan than would be suggested by the currency's trade-weighted basket.
The mainland's currency has recently become a source of political tension with the U.S., with President-elect Trump vowing during his campaign to label the country a currency manipulator for the purposes of a competitive trade advantage and threatening to impose a 45 percent tariff on its exports to the U.S.
In the wake of the Trump win, the yuan fell to nearly eight year lows against the dollar, touching its weakest since at least January 2009, during the global financial crisis. But analysts attributed the slide primarily to the strength of the dollar, with the dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of currencies, surging to a 14-year high after the election.
Some analysts had noted that, based on currency movements within the yuan's trade-weighted basket, policymakers appeared to be supporting the yuan somewhat.
Analysts generally don't expect the yuan will continue to climb much against the dollar, even as the country faced the likelihood that capital outflows would remain relatively high.
Geoff Lewis, global market strategist at Manulife Asset Management, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday that he expected the yuan to fall around 4-5 percent against the dollar this year, a slower pace of depreciation than 2016's around 7 percent.
"I think what we're talking about here is a renminbi which weakens in line with other currencies. There's no harm in that. I don't think Beijing will try and resist that," Lewis said.
"The capital account is relatively poor," he said, but he added, "China still has enough reserves to prevent the renminbi from crashing."
He noted that while there were concerns that the mainland's foreign-exchange reserves might fall below the psychological USD 3 trillion mark, he didn't attach much real significance to psychological levels as USD 3 trillion was still a sizable pot.
In November, China's foreign reserves fell to USD 3.052 trillion, a nearly six-year low, Reuters reported. December's data were due on Saturday.
Lewis wasn't alone in shrugging off the upcoming data.
"I think it is not of huge significance to the market, because it does not convey the full picture of Chinese authorities' intervention in the foreign-exchange market," BNP Paribas' Baig said. "This is partial information and it has become a less important market driver. The market does not move on this number much anymore."