while the American Express card can be used to obtain cash at all the locations listed in Appendix K, only the offices in Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Guilin, Chengdu, and Guangzhou can arrange to replace lost traveler's checks.
The American Express credit card can also be used for purchases and hotel payments in most joint-venture hotels and in many Chinese establishments that cater to foreign tourists. New establishments are being added daily. For further information, write for the American Express booklet, Guide to China.
Visa and MasterCard can also be used in some locations, both as payment and for cash advances of up to US$500 at designated Bank of China service counters—for a service charge of four percent.
Many people planning to stay in China longer than a few months open a U.S. dollar bank account with the Bank of China. Banking regulations vary from place to place and policies change constantly, so you should learn your bank regulations before opening an account. Payroll and third-party checks cannot be cashed under any circumstances, and personal or bank checks can take at least one month to clear. The Tiananmen experience of June 1989, when most Americans were evacuated and some did not have time to withdraw their money, has made some people cautious about how much money they keep in a Chinese account. You may want to depend on periodic deposits from your U.S. bank account rather than putting all your funds into a Chinese account.
You can also obtain money via international money order. Because there are no standard banking practices in China, policies on cashing international money orders differ from city to city. In some places they can be cashed immediately, whereas in others they may take one to three months to clear.
Appendix L includes prices for selected hotels, food, services, transportation, clothing, and medical care. For further information on currency and banking in China—and for information for people who will receive direct payment by Chinese organizations—see Chapter 7.
Customs regulations as of this writing are in a state of flux. On the final leg of your flight to China, you will be given a customs declaration form on which to list any cameras, tape recorders, valuable jewelry, typewriters, or computers being brought into the country and the amount of currency and traveler's checks on your person. The form will be checked at the customs desk—after the baggage claim area in most airports—and you will be given a copy. In the past, customs officials asked to see the copy when you left the country and could impose stiff fines if you failed to prove that you were taking out all items declared on entry. Fines were also imposed