The Chinese yuan (CNY) is the official accounting unit of the Democratic People’s Republic of China. It is also known as the Renminbi, which is the actual name of the currency used in China. The word yuan in Chinese can refer to a lump of silver or round coin. It is used as a general word for money, and the Chinese call other currencies yuan, as well, such as the US yuan and the Euro yuan (US dollar and Euro, respectively).
The Chinese yuan was introduced in 1889 at a 1:1 par with the silver Mexican peso and replaced a variety of copper coins. The widespread circulation of Spanish coins in Asia was due to the proximity of its colonies Philippines and Guam. The yuan was divided into 1000 wen, 100 fen and 10 jiao. Silver coins were minted at regional mints in denominations of 5 fen, 1,2 and 5 jiao and 1 yuan. Wen coins were minted in copper.
In 1903 the central government began issuing copper and silver coins under the same decimal system. The silver yuan was similar in specifications to the US silver dollar. The least valuable denominations were eventually produced with nickel and aluminum replacing copper. Bank notes were also produced by the government and local banks.
In the 1930′s the yuan saw its use among the population reduced as a result of the Japanese invasion of Indo-China. Circulation and possession of silver yuans was banned. Since then, the yuan to this day has not been minted with or backed by precious metals.
The occupying Japanese and the puppet governments of China issued various bank notes, all receiving limited approval by the population. The Chinese-issued customs gold units were printed and circulated alongside the yuan and had no connection to the yellow metal. Following the end of WWII China suffered hyperinflation and in 1948 imposed the gold yuan as the new currency at a worth of three million old yuan. The gold yuan had no connection to physical gold, either. As communist forces took over the country, they introduced a new yuan in 1948 in paper form which was replaced by the new yuan, or renminbi in 1955, which is the currency in use in China today.
- The gold price in Chinese yuan ranges from a low of ¥572 in 1982 to a high of ¥12,117 in September 2011.
- China holds 1,054 tonnes of gold as reserves, representing a 1.7% share of its international currency reserves.
- The People’s Republic of China began issuing gold and silver bullion for collector purposes in 1982. The most popular coin is the gold Panda, available in weights of 1/20, 1/10, 1/4, 1/2 and 1 troy ounce. Its design changes every year and is also available in silver.