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A TWO MONEY SYSTEM

Popularity 2Viewed 6293 times 2013-7-9 10:24 |Personal category:History|System category:Others| two, money, system

       On March 19, 1980 the People's Republic of China authorized the Bank of China to issue "FOREIGN EXCHANGE CERTIFICATES" for use by non-Chinese citizens when visiting china.  These certificates were issue  as distinctly differed notes but had the same denominations  and value as the Renminbi yuan.
These certificates were to be used only in China and for specific purposes which include travel services dealing with non- citizens, friendship stores, craft stores, curio shops, foreign trade centers, and special shops selling foreign goods. 
Also included were fares for for domestic and international flights, tickets for trains or ships, guest houses accommodating exclusively foreigners.
Essentially we foreigners had our on currency.
What was the real purpose of this foreign currency? Do you remember the insulting sign hung on the park gates on the Bund in Shanghai before the PRC took over China?  " DOGS AND CHINESE NOT ALLOWED".  Well, this was to serve the same purpose without insulting the Chinese and without the foreigners worrying about it.
Actually the Chinese purpose was to control the areas were foreign visitors were allowed.  As the first foreigners arrived the Chinese people wanted to see them, so they tended to storm the places they were. The hotels, restaurant, specialty stores and other  places.  Not being allowed in these places did not appear to be enough to keep them out so with their local Renminbi they could not buy anything nor could they get some foreign friend to by it for them unless they had FECS..  The only way was if the foreigners spent their money in local stores.  This was not likely to happen for at least three  reasons.  First the small Chinese stores had little to offer the foreigner. Second few of the foreigners spoke any Chinese and third the tours were so tightly controlled by the local tour guides that you only shopped where they took you.
I came back to China in '82 and '84, both in very controlled groups were the foreigners were not allow very much freedom.
Realizing the the only way I could get free of the tourist stigma was to become a student I came over to China on a student visa to ostensibly study Chinese, but  actually see for myself what was going on behind the scenes. I was born in China and spoke Mandarin with a  Nanjing accent. With a student visa I was allowed to travel on my own or in the company of
Chinese.   
         By this time the Chinese were having all sorts of problems with the Foreign Exchange Certificates. The Chinese were getting richer and wanted what the foreiners were buying. A huge black market had sprung up and everywhere you went you heard people whispering "change money/ change money". However, the government had a large number of undercover police watching for these money changers.
The FEC on the black marker were officially 120/100 but in many cases you could bargain a higher rate.  The only place it was safe to exchange one for the other was in a taxi and before the trip.
 I remember once when I was walking by a parking lot a man stepped out from behind a car and said "change money"? He no sooner stepped towards me than another man stepped out from behind another car and off they went running down the street, one a few steps behind the other.  I never saw weather he was caught or not but I do know that foreigners who were caught were not treated favorably.
Another place where this became embarrassing to the Chinese government was in the case of the foreign students on scholarships they had brought in from all over the world but mostly from Africa.  These students were given a monthly allowance in Renminbi and not in FEC. This prohibited them from going to the hotels and places of entertainment that the rest of the students in the same schools attended.  To overcome this the government simply said that these students could use Renminbi.  Now a student is a student and we quickly caught on that with our student passports we could use use either currency where we went. The reason we had Renminbi was because we bought many items in the small stores surrounding the school and we always got Renminbi in exchange. 
I do not remember when it ended but I believe it was in effect less than ten years. 
 


(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)


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Reply Report voice_cd 2013-7-9 10:41
Thanks for sharing your story with our readers here. If you come over China right now, I guess you would like to exchange dollar into renminbi

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    • A TWO MONEY SYSTEM 2013-7-9 10:41

      Thanks for sharing your story with our readers here. If you come over China right now, I guess you would like to exchange dollar into renminbi

    • Comparing Chinese and US education 2013-6-29 12:18

      Thanks JMTrim

      Your story is very interesting, and I am sure have lots more you could tell.  I look forward to following your blog.

      Thanks for the English lesson too I had to look up the word Emeritus to be sure what it meant (though I guessed correctly.)
      Emeritus is a Latin past participle that means "having served one's time" or "having merited one's discharge by service" (Latin ē-, "out", and meritus, "merited").

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