for losing the form. Recently, however, customs officials have not been requesting these forms on departure. Until the changes in customs regulations become clear, you are advised to keep your copy.
One purpose of the customs declaration form is to prevent the sale or gifts of items that are relatively difficult to obtain in China and might have a high resale value or (in the case of reading material) that might be offensive to the Chinese government. If, for instance, you brought in small pocket calculators or digital clocks to give away as gifts, fines of up to 100 percent of their value could be imposed if you leave without them. A few people report having books (such as Orville Schell's Discos and Democracy) confiscated on entering China. If, however, reading materials are for your private use, the possibility of confiscation is minimal.
Foreigners entering China may bring up to four bottles of liquor, 600 cigarettes, an unlimited supply of medicine for personal use (in its original labeled container), personal effects, and an unlimited amount of currency and traveler's checks. There are no restrictions on still cameras, 8mm cameras, film, or personal video equipment (for example, cam-corders) but professional film and video equipment may not be brought in or taken out of China without special permission.
Americans going to Shanghai should note that the U.S. Consulate General there has received frequent complaints that Shanghai customs officials routinely assess and collect unusually high customs duties, particularly for supplies forwarded as unaccompanied baggage or sent through the international mail. Shanghai customs has published a pamphlet that lists prohibited and restricted items for all of China and gives some estimates for possible duties. Although this information is not definitive, it does give prospective American residents an idea of potential customs problems. The regulations in the pamphlet apply to all of China, but Shanghai is stricter about enforcing them. The Shanghai consular district includes the provinces of Jiangsu, Anhui, and Zhejiang. You should request a copy of this pamphlet from your Chinese host before leaving the United States.
According to the pamphlet,
Articles prohibited entry include not only the usual firearms, wireless transmitters, drugs, plants, contaminated foodstuffs, and Chinese currency but also, and much more ambiguously, ''publications, photographs, tapes, records and any other material harmful to Chinese politics, economy, culture or morals."
Certain articles may be brought in only in restricted quantity: wristwatches, pocket watches, and bicycles at one per person; cameras, radios, and sewing machines at one per family.
Duty is high: 20 percent for grains, flours, medical equipment,