The Strange Story of China's Abandoned 'Foreigner Currency'

By Bridget O'Donnell, February 6, 2017

1 1

The coins vs. notes phenomenon is confusing enough, but did you know that China also used to have an entirely separate currency system just for foreigners?

Up until 1994, Foreign Exchange Certificates (FEC), known as waihui in Chinese, were the primary form of payment for laowai travelers to the Middle Kingdom. 

Andy Curtain and Kent Kedl, the guys behind the Kung Fu Komedy Stuck in the Middle Podcast, recently discussed the bizarre history of China's foreign currency system in their live episode with Turner Sparks.

"China bucks," as Kedl endearingly nicknamed them, were primarily used at hotels and Friendship Stores back in the wild days (AKA the 1980s).

Technically, only foreigners with employment cards could use renminbi instead of FEC. But according to Kedl, it was actually pretty easy to get yuan off the streets — albiet through rather questionable means.

Watch the KFK krew chat about China's now abandoned "two currencies" system below (VPN off):

Outside of China? Watch on Youtube here.

more news

This Day in History: Google Announces Exit from China Market

Google's China-based google.cn search webpage, launched in 2006, had a turbulent time operating on the Chinese mainland.

This Day in History: Massive Haiyuan Earthquake Devastates Gansu

Statistics released in 2010 show at least 273,400 were killed by the earthquake in Gansu, with Haiyuan losing 73,604 people, nearly half of the county’s entire population.

This Day in History: Nelson Mandela's Changing Relationship with China

South African leader's close links with the Middle Kingdom.

This Day in History: The Discovery of Peking Man

And its mysterious disappearance in World War II...

This Day in History: China’s First KFC Opens by Tiananmen Square

On November 12, 1987, KFC made its debut in China near Qianmen in Beijing.

Journey to Cretaceous China in New Episode of China Untold Podcast

For this episode of China Untold, host Matt Bossons introduces you to Qianzhousaurus and the people studying it.

This Week in History: The Birth of Sun Yat-sen, Father of Modern China

To this day, more than 150 years after his birth, Sun is one of the most revered political figures among Chinese people.

1 User Comments

    In Case You Missed It…

    We're on WeChat!

    Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at thatsonline for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

    7 Days in China With thatsmags.com

    Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

    Subscribe

    Download previous issues

    Never miss an issue of That's Magazines!

    Visit the archives