Currency - Renminbi

Currency  >  Renminbi


¥ or 元
The renminbi (Ab.: RMB; ; sign: 元/¥; code: CNY) is the official currency of the People's Republic of China. The yuan is the basic unit of the renminbi, but is also used to refer to the Chinese currency generally, especially in international contexts where "Chinese yuan" is widely used to refer to the renminbi. The distinction between the terms renminbi and yuan is similar to that between sterling and pound, which respectively refer to the British currency and its primary unit. One yuan is subdivided into 10 jiao, and a jiao in turn is subdivided into 10 fen . The renminbi is issued by the People's Bank of China, the monetary authority of China.

Until 2005, the value of the renminbi was pegged to the US dollar. As China pursued its transition from central planning to a market economy, and increased its participation in foreign trade, the renminbi was devalued to increase the competitiveness of Chinese industry. It has previously been claimed that the renminbi's official exchange rate was undervalued by as much as 37.5% against its purchasing power parity. More recently, however, appreciation actions by the Chinese government, as well as quantitative easing measures taken by the American Federal Reserve and other major central banks, have caused the renminbi to be within as little as 8% of its equilibrium value by the second half of 2012. Since 2006, the renminbi exchange rate has been allowed to float in a narrow margin around a fixed base rate determined with reference to a basket of world currencies. The Chinese government has announced that it will gradually increase the flexibility of the exchange rate. As a result of the rapid internationalization of the renminbi, it became the world's 8th most traded currency in 2013, and 5th by 2015.

On 1 October 2018, the RMB became the first emerging market currency to be included in the IMF's special drawing rights basket, the basket of currencies used by the IMF (reserve currency).

The ISO code for renminbi (which may also be used for the yuan) is CNY (an abbreviation for "Chinese yuan"), or also CNH when traded in off-shore markets such as Hong Kong. The currency is often abbreviated RMB, or indicated by the yuan sign ¥. The latter may be written CN¥ to distinguish it from other currencies with the same symbol (such as the Japanese yen). In Chinese texts the currency may also be indicated with the Chinese character for the yuan, 圆 (or 元 informally). The renminbi is legal tender in mainland China, but not in Hong Kong or Macau. However, Renminbi is widely accepted in Hong Kong and Macau, and are easily exchanged in the two territories, with banks in Hong Kong allowing people to maintain accounts in RMB and withdraw RMB banknotes from ATM terminals.

In 1889, the yuan was equated at par with the Mexican peso, a silver coin deriving from the Spanish dollar which circulated widely in southeast Asia since the 17th century due to Spanish presence in the Philippines and Guam. It was subdivided into 1000 cash, 100 cents or fen , and 10 jiao (, cf. dime). It replaced copper cash and various silver ingots called sycees. The sycees were denominated in tael. The yuan was valued at 0.72 tael, (or 7 mace and 2 candareens).

Banknotes were issued in yuan denominations from the 1890s by several local and private banks, along with the Imperial Bank of China and the "Hu Pu Bank" (later the "Ta-Ch'ing Government Bank"), established by the Imperial government. During the Imperial period, banknotes were issued in denominations of 1, 2 and 5 jiao, 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 and 100 yuan, although notes below 1 yuan were uncommon.

The earliest issues were silver coins produced at the Guangdong mint, known in the West at the time as Canton, and transliterated as Kwangtung, in denominations of 5 cents, 1, 2 and 5 jiao and 1 yuan. Other regional mints were opened in the 1890s producing similar silver coins along with copper coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10 and 20 cash. Other regional mints were opened in the 1890s. The central government began issuing its own coins in the yuan currency system in 1903. Banknotes were issued in yuan denominations from the 1890s by several local and private banks, along with banks established by the Imperial government.

The central government began issuing its own coins in the yuan currency system in 1903. These were brass 1 cash, copper 2, 5, 10 and 20 cash, and silver 1, 2 and 5 jiao and 1 yuan. After the revolution, although the designs changed, the sizes and metals used in the coinage remained mostly unchanged until the 1930s. From 1936, the central government issued nickel (later cupronickel) 5, 10 and 20 fen and 1⁄2 yuan coins. Aluminium 1 and 5 fen pieces were issued in 1940.

A variety of currencies circulated in China during the Republic of China (ROC) era, most of which were denominated in the unit yuán (Mandarin pronunciation in IPA: ). Each was distinguished by a currency name, such as the fabi ("legal tender"), the "gold yuan", and the "silver yuan".

The renminbi was introduced by the People's Bank of China in December 1948, about a year before the establishment of the People's Republic of China. It was issued only in paper money form at first, and replaced the various currencies circulating in the areas controlled by the Communists. One of the first tasks of the new government was to end the hyperinflation that had plagued China in the final years of the Kuomintang (KMT) era. That achieved, a revaluation occurred in 1955 at the rate of 1 new yuan = 10,000 old yuan.



China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around billion. Covering approximately 9600000 km2, it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities (Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Chongqing), and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

China emerged as one of the world's earliest civilizations, in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, beginning with the semi-legendary Xia dynasty in 21st century BCE. Since then, China has expanded, fractured, and re-unified numerous times. In the 3rd century BCE, the Qin reunited core China and established the first Chinese empire. The succeeding Han dynasty, which ruled from 206 BC until 220 AD, saw some of the most advanced technology at that time, including papermaking and the compass, along with agricultural and medical improvements. The invention of gunpowder and movable type in the Tang dynasty (618–907) and Northern Song (960–1127) completed the Four Great Inventions. Tang culture spread widely in Asia, as the new Silk Route brought traders to as far as Mesopotamia and Horn of Africa. Dynastic rule ended in 1912 with the Xinhai Revolution, when a republic replaced the Qing dynasty. The Chinese Civil War resulted in a division of territory in 1949, when the Communist Party of China established the People's Republic of China, a unitary one-party sovereign state on Mainland China, while the Kuomintang-led government retreated to the island of Taiwan. The political status of Taiwan remains disputed.


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