Thurston, Anne F., Turner-Gottschang, Karen, Reed, Linda A.. "7. Services Available." China Bound, Revised: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1994.
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CHINA BOUND: A Guide to Academic Life and Work in the PRC
used clothing into the country for other than personal use, and medicines of any kind may not be mailed to China except with special permission in emergency situations. Americans who are not members of the diplomatic community may not ordinarily use the diplomatic pouch.
CURRENCY AND BANKING
The Chinese currency (renminbi or RMB) is based on a decimal system. The basic unit is the yuan (or Chinese dollar), referred to colloquially as the kuai. The yuan is subdivided into 10 jiao (more commonly called mao, the Chinese dime) and 100 fen (penny). The largest paper RMB amount is the 100-yuan note (Y100). There are also notes in amounts of Y50, Y10, Y5, Y2, Y1, and 1, 2, and 5 jiao and fen. Coins come in denominations of Y1 and smaller. The official rate of exchange in February 1994 was Y8.7 to US$ 1.00. It is now legal to take up to Y6,000 of RMB in and out of the country, and RMB can be legally bought and sold in Hong Kong, at the Po Sang Bank on Queen's Road Central.
Prior to January 1, 1994, the Chinese government also issued a special scrip called foreign exchange certificates (FEC) in exchange for foreign currency. FEC can still be used as currency, at a value and in a manner equivalent to RMB, but it is no longer issued by the bank. The bills are gradually being withdrawn from circulation. No transactions now require FEC payment. When foreign currency or traveler's checks are exchanged at a bank, only RMB is given in return. As of February 1994, FEC can still be converted back into foreign currencies at the Bank of China, at the rate valid on December 31, 1993 (approximately Y5.8 = US$1.00). Exchange memos documenting previous exchange transactions from foreign currencies into FEC may be required for this transaction. This reconversion privilege is subject to revision at any time, so readers are encouraged to check with the Chinese Embassy, the nearest consulate, or the Bank of China about current practice.
U.S. dollars remain in high demand. Some universities and research institutes have asked that tuition or affiliation fees be paid in dollars. Prices at joint venture hotels are often quoted in dollars.
Ask your host unit to direct you to the nearest Bank of China branch with full services for foreigners. In Beijing, most Americans frequent either the office on Dengshikou Xijie just north of Wangfujing Dajie or the bank on the ground floor of the CITIC building in the Jianguomenwai area. You can open a bank account (a savings account that pays a low rate of interest) easily, in U.S. dollars or RMB, and withdrawals can be made at any time. If your account is opened as a U.S. dollar account, you can withdraw funds in either U.S. dollars or RMB; but if it is opened using RMB, you can make withdrawals only in