Posted by: rbbadger | June 10, 2009

China’s currency

South Korea is one of the few places around the world where the Chinese Yuan (元 or 圆), also known as the Renminbi (人民币) or “People’s Currency” is actively traded.  Unlike in the USA, the Yuan is fully convertible here.  Before I left for China, I went down to my local Woori Bank branch and converted some Korean won into Chinese Yuan.  Before going to a foreign country, I always find it handy to have some cash on hand in the local currency.  Generally, it enables me leave the airport quicker, something which is my ultimate goal anyway as foreign exchange rates at airports often are terrible.  It was no problem at all to do this in Korea.  However, the Yuan is not convertible in most countries.  Korea and Japan are exceptions. 

The late Chairman Mao Zedong, former leader of both the People’s Republic of China and the Communist Party of China, is featured on all denominations of Chinese banknotes.  Indeed, the varying denominations don’t look very different from each other on the front, except for size and colour considerations.  If you click here, you can see an image of the one yuan banknote.

Things get a bit more interesting when Hong Kong and Macau are thrown into the picture.  The Hong Kong dollar is printed by three different banks, all under the guidance of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.  The three different banks have chosen different designs for their banknotes.  They all have the same colour scheme, but the designs are all different from bank to bank.  HSBC, the Bank of China, and Standard Chartered are the three banknote issuing banks.  They are forbidden by law from printing more money than they have reserves to back it up with.  To see Hong Kong’s banknotes, visit this site.


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