Chinese Money

We wanted to talk about Chinese money.  The bills are called “RenMinBi” (or RMB), which literally means “The People’s Currency.”  The bills come in 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2(although we haven’t seen these), and 1 denominations.  You might call the bills “Mao Money,” as his picture is on each bill (so much for the US idea of using different former presidents).  The bills also are labeled with the word “yuan,” which is pronounced “rin.”  Most people do not say “yuan.”  Instead they say “kuai, pronounced “kweye.”   It gets a little confusing, because people also call it renminbi, or RMB.  We still don’t know what to call the money, or if we think we do, we don’t know how pronounce it!

Chinese money

The bigger bills are in fact bigger and wider bills…so the 100 is the largest/widest, then 50, and so on down to the one (smallest Mao).  There is an even smaller bill, than the one, that does not have Mao on it, but it is not used much.  We guess this helps blind people sort their bills.  You can see in the picture that the 100 Mao is bigger than our bill size, so they don’t quite fit in your wallet!   The bills also come in different colors-red=100, green=50, brown=20, blue=10, also green=1…so for sighted people you can use the colors.  There are also coins…but we haven’t really figured out the coins yet, other than the 1-yuan coin which is like the 1 bill.

Figuring out what Chinese money is worth:
This is taking us some time to adjust to.  We still have to convert to dollars to get an approximation.  We haven’t started thinking in Chinese yet!  Looking at the rate of exchange on the Internet (which changes daily), here is today’s rate:

1 Chinese yuan = 0.146509 U.S. dollars

The quick way to figure out how much something costs is to either divide the amount by 7, to get an approximate dollar amount (example, we bought an electric heater for 198 RMB, or about $28),or to multiply the amount by 14 to get an amount in cents (we bought a bag of carrots for 1.5 RMB, or about 21 cents).  Some quick comparisons…10 RMB=$1.40…100 RMB=$14.00
One problem we have heard about is counterfeit money.  Since the Chinese can copy anything well, counterfeit 100 RMB bills have appeared.  Now whenever you pay with a 100 they visually scan or run it through a machine that checks it.
The Chinese are big on cash.  Many do use debit cards in stores and there are lots of ATMs…but mostly they use cash.  There is some credit card use…but it is pretty limited.
Some economists say that China’s currency is undervalued, thus keeping Chinese goods cheaper in the world market.  It is also good for the Chinese people who are becoming major consumers.  These economists say the money should be adjusted up so it will be worth more,  This would push the price of Chinese goods up too…probably something that is not going to happen soon.
Now you know all about Chinese money.

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