Chinese FECs, Notes Of Conditional Exchange: 1 Jiao (China, 1979)-Article

Updated: Mar 12

This small Chinese banknote is a Foreign Exchange Certificate (FEC), issued to foreign nationals visiting China. As foreign nationals were forbidden from using domestic Chinese Yuan currency, throughout the Cold War. FECs were acquired by converting a foreign "hard currency" upon entry. Which could be spent at designated state-owned companies, such as Friendship Stores.

Variants of FECs and foreigner only stores, were a common feature in many Eastern Bloc nations. Some notable examples include Beryozka (Soviet Union), Intershop (East Germany), and Dollar Store (Cuba). Although only the Chinese Friendship Stores survived the end of the Cold War. And since have become open to the general public, as western style department stores.

On January 1, 1995 FECs became abolished, due to previous economic reforms made under Deng Xiaoping. Which led to an influx of foreign "hard currency" investments making FECs redundant.


The observe features an illustration of Huangguoshu Waterfall, in Guizhou Providence. It's located on the Baishui River, 45 km (28 mi) southwest of Anshun. At 77.8 m (255 ft) high and 101 m (331 ft) wide, Huangguoshu representing the largest waterfall in China. Behind it lies the 134 m (440 ft) long Water-Curtain Cave. Believed to be the Monkey King's home, from the novel Journey to the West.

The header reads "中國銀行" (Zhōngguó yínháng), representing the "Bank of China". This header is followed by the subtitle "外汇兑换券" (Wàihuì duìhuàn quàn), identifying the note as a "Foreign Exchange Certificate". While the footer reads "一九七九年" (Yījiǔqījiǔ nián), representing the note's "1979" print date.

The note's 1 Jiao value is represented numerically (0.10), at the upper left. This value is repeated in Hanzi (Chinese character's) at the lower-left. Notably 1 Jiǎo is a subdivision valued at 1/10th Yuán or 10 Fēn. At the lower-left is the note's serial number (DK 345035).


The reverse lists the conditions of the FEC, in Chinese and English. With the exception of the notification this English text mostly repeats the observe. The underprint differs from the observe featuring guilloché, chainmail patterns, and fine directional lines.

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Size Comparison

A Chinese 10 Fen FEC with US Dollar for scale.
A Chinese 10 Fen FEC with US Dollar for scale.

Additional Notes

  • This notes dimensions are 123 x 44 mm or 4.84 x 1.73 in, smaller than a US Dollar.

  • Chinese FECs ranged from 1 Jiao to 100 Yuan, divided across 7 denominations.

  • Despite their "1979" print date, all initial FECs were issued on 1 April 1980.

  • The 50 and 100 Yuan denominations were reissued on 1 April 1990, these FECs feature a "1988" print date.

  • The 50 Yuan (1988) feature different artwork and is larger than its 1979 predecessor.

  • The 100 Yuan (1988) shares the same artwork of its 1979 predecessor, yet differs in color.

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