What is the Chinese Yuan Renminbi? – (CNY) definition

The Chinese term Yuan (CNY) refers to the currency used in the People’s Republic of China. It may sound a bit confusing because the names are often shown together, but they are actually two different terms. The yuan serves as China’s unit of account for its single currency, financial system, and economy. On the other hand, the term “yuan” is the official name of the currency itself.

The Chinese Yuan is the currency used in the People’s Republic of China. The yuan is the actual unit of currency, and the yuan is the currency’s name. Yuan can be divided into 10 jiao, and 10 jiao is divided into 10 fens. Banknotes are printed in 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 yuan and 1, 2, and 5 denominations.

Chinese Yuan (CNY) definition: What is Chinese Yuan Renminbi?

The Chinese Yuan Renminbi is the official currency of China. As mentioned above, the term yuan refers to a currency unit, while the term Renminbi refers to the actual name of the currency itself. Yuan is denominated in CNY, and Renminbi is denominated in RMB. The People’s Republic of China introduced the latter to China when it was founded in 1949.

China’s national currency is issued by the central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). The bank’s headquarters is in Beijing, the capital of China. In addition to the printed currency, the bank is responsible for monetary and fiscal policy as well as financial regulation in China. The PBOC management team consists of one governor, six vice governors, and two chief inspectors.

The currency symbol is ¥. One yuan is divided into ten denominations. One jiao is divided into ten fens. There are 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 Yuan notes and 1, 2, and 5 jiao notes in circulation. The central bank divides coins into 1, 2, and 5. Coins are also issued in 1 denomination and 5 denominations, and 1 yuan.

Good to know!

Since the 1950s, several series of the renminbi have been published, each with its own banknotes and coins. Version 5 is now legal tender and will end sooner. CNY is not a free-floating currency system. Instead, a floating exchange rate is applied. This means it can fluctuate with tight margins based on a fixed base exchange rate against a basket of world currencies. Until 2005, the yuan was pegged directly to the US dollar.

Since the terms yuan and renminbi are often used interchangeably or interchangeably in some parts of the world, it is not surprising that their use often confuses investors. However, the term yuan renminbi is very similar to the terms pound sterling and pound used to describe the British currency.

The pound sterling is the name of the British currency itself, and the pound is a denomination of the pound sterling. You buy goods and services using pounds or pounds, not pounds. It is important to remember that currency can be referred to as Renminbi according to this example. However, in terms of monetary value and price, the term yuan is used. For example, the recommended retail price for a BMW 320Li M in March 2019 was 339,800 yen.

Currency depreciation

Chinese Yuan

The yuan has experienced a steady stream of returns against the dollar, which has resulted in the currency depreciating several times in 2015. The Chinese leadership said this was part of a market reform effort. This has led to a trade war with the United States, known as China as a currency manipulator, and President Donald Trump has imposed tariffs on Chinese goods since 2018. China responded with its own tariffs on US goods.

The removal of the yuan not only made Chinese goods cheaper and more attractive on the international market but also provided China with another advantage. It is the first emerging market currency to be included in the SDR basket of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a reserve used by the IMF. The IMF added RMB to the basket in October 2016.

The fundamentals of RMB: China’s national currency.

The currency of China is the Renminbi, commonly denominated in RMB. Each unit is known as the Yuan (¥).

However, there are two types of Renminbi in the foreign exchange market: domestic and foreign.

  1. CNY (the renminbi used for inland – trade in China)
  2. CNH (the RMB used for transactions outside of China)

CNY and CNH are types of Renminbi (1 CNY = 1 RMB = 1 Yuan and 1 CNH = 1 RMB = 1 Yuan). Nonetheless, they don’t essentially trade at the same price against other foreign currencies.

Why are there two types of RMB?

Renminbi icon

Mainland China’s economy is currently the world’s second-largest economy. However, there are still very tight capital controls characteristic of emerging markets. Previously, the yuan could not be traded outside of China.

As a temporary step in internationalizing the currency, mainland China created an offshore version of the CNH in the yuan, the “H” stands for Hong Kong, meaning Hong Kong, which has the deepest market for CNH trading, but it also trades in other international currency exchange like London and Singapore.

What is the difference between CNY and CNH?

Generally, CNY is the currency used in China, and CNH is the offshore currency. The first step is to understand that when someone talks about a currency in the context of cross-border transactions, they are constantly referring to another currency (i.e., the price of that currency versus the foreign currency, i.e., the exchange rate).

There are two main differences between CNY and CNH.

  1. The free market economy determines the exchange rate of CNH compared to other currencies. Therefore, sometimes the exchange rate between CNH and CNY compared to the US dollar, for instance, may be different.
  2. CNH is free to trade with other currencies in international markets without violating Chinese capital controls.

In essence, CNH and CNY have different amounts against the US dollar. Both have their own buying, selling, and mid-market rates. The Chinese government controls the value of CNY. The People’s Bank of China Central Bank issues one daily base rate. On the other hand, CNH is freely traded on global markets, and its value varies from market to market. This creates an arbitration opportunity where offshore branches of Chinese banks are known to take advantage of price differences.

But in the “physical” world, you’re shooting RMB. For example, if you withdraw Chinese money from an ATM in mainland China (or Hong Kong, where RMB is the fiat currency now), you will receive RMB. Therefore, the “exchange rate” between CNH and CNY is always 1:1, regardless of other exchange rates in the market compared to other currencies.


The Chinese financial system compared to the US dollar is as follows:

US Dollar = RMB

Cent = Fen

Dime = Jiao

Dollar = Yuan

FAQ – The most asked questions about the Chinese Yuan Renminbi :

What is Chinese Yuan and Renminbi?

The Chinese Yuan and Renminbi are the names of two different currencies of the People’s Republic of China. They are the convertible currencies of the country.

What are the differences between these two Chinese currencies?

There is a slight distinction between the Chinese Yuan and the Renminbi. While the Renminbi is the official currency of China, the Yuan is the primary unit of account for the Renminbi currency.

What do these two Chinese currencies signify?

The significance of the Chinese Yuan and Renminbi is that the Yuan is used in the names of other currencies, like the Hong Kong Dollar, New Taiwan Dollar, Macanese Pacata, or Singapore Dollars. The Renminbi is considered the most frequently used currency among the top five currencies in the world.

While the Renminbi is the official name of the currency of China, the principal unit of the Renminbi is known as the Chinese Yuan.

What is the value of the Chinese Yuan and Renminbi?

The value of one Chinese Yuan is 0.14 US dollars, and the value of one US dollar is 6.719 yuan Renminbi.

Where can I buy Chinese currencies online?

Not all can buy Chinese Yuan and Renminbi online, as they are available only to certain bank users in certain cities of China. 

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Last Updated on January 28, 2023 by Arkady Müller