Thurston, Anne F., Turner-Gottschang, Karen, Reed, Linda A.. "2. Preparing for the Trip." 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
will reside in China for one year or longer, show it to U.S. customs officials on your return to the United States.
BAGGAGE AND SHIPPING
To avoid excess baggage charges, it is best to travel light. Passengers flying to China from the United States are allowed two pieces of luggage, neither of which may exceed 62 inches (adding all three linear dimensions); both pieces together may not exceed 106 inches. Air China, China's largest international carrier, calculates limits by weight; economy-class passengers are allowed two bags, which may not exceed a total of 44 pounds (20 kilograms). Travel agents advise that carry-on allowances are becoming stricter on all airlines.
Baggage allowances for traveling in Asia, including China, are also calculated by weight; the 44-pound limit applies in most countries. Thus, it is possible that if you travel within China, or if you stop in Hong Kong or Tokyo or Shanghai, for example, before going on to your final destination in China, you may be charged for excess baggage weight even though you stayed within the limit on your U.S. carrier. In group travel, excess baggage charges are based on the total weight for the entire group. You may want to compare the additional cost of extra weight with the cost of sending things airmail. The difference may be marginal and worth it to ensure that you have your materials on arrival.
For long-term stays, items may be shipped ahead by mail (allow two to three months for sea mail) in care of the foreign affairs office of the host institution. However, used clothing, even for personal use, cannot be sent through the mails. Books may be shipped using the special book rates that apply to China; check with your local post office for details. The U.S. Postal Service will supply used post office bags (request "M-bags") that can be filled with boxed printed matter (15 pounds minimum per bag, 66 pounds maximum); the bags go by surface mail (six to eight weeks in transit). Books go for 72 cents a pound; printed matter, $1.32 a pound. Several airlines will accept large parcels as air freight; check with the cargo division of the airlines for details. It is best to schedule air shipments after your own arrival in China so you can pick them up and clear them through customs. Some people report considerable confusion over collecting their packages, largely because it is hard to determine which office is holding them. If possible, get the telephone number and address of the office in China before you leave, and make certain that the office administering shipments is also the same for package pickup. Administrative offices are often in a different location from where your packages will be stored. Take all forms relating to shipment with you when you go to retrieve your packages. Occasionally an entire box is lost or valuable contents stolen. Be certain to register whatever you send.