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Exchange rates last updated Tuesday, 28 May 2019 11:14:54 AM EDT. The online exchange rates provided by this Currency Converter are intended as a guide only and should not be used for transactional purposes. All rates are subject to change from time to time without notice. Exchange rates used in-store may differ from those offered online. The Travelex online sell rate will be used for conversions from US Dollars to a foreign currency.
The latest on USD to CNY exchange rates
The lowdown on the Chinese yuan renminbi
Currency in China dates back an impressive 4,500 years, right back to the New Stone Age when cowrie shells were the currency of choice. In around 210BC the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, abolished all of the various forms of currency floating around and replaced them with one regulation copper coin to make everything a little bit simpler. Paper money was introduced in the 9th century, but the copper coin remained the chief currency of China all the way up until 1889 when the Chinese yuan was introduced.
The Chinese yuan was introduced in 1889 at par with the Mexico peso, using both silver and copper coins. The rise of the Communist Party of China saw the People’s Bank of China issue a unified currency across the Communist-controlled territories in 1948. Although the currency still used was the yuan, it tried out a few different names including ‘People’s Bank of China banknotes’, ‘New Currency’ and finally ‘People’s Currency’ or renminbi from 1949.
The renminbi is still the official currency of the People's Republic of China and is legal tender across mainland China, but not in Hong Kong where they use the Hong Kong dollar or in Macau, where the Macanese pacata is used.
A look back at US dollar to Chinese yuan renminbi rates
For the majority of its early history, the Chinese yuan was pegged to the US dollar at a rate of 2.46 yuan to 1 US dollar, until it was revalued in the 1970s and set at 1.50 by 1980.
As China’s economy continued to grow and open up to the world in the 1980s, the yuan was devalued to improve the competitiveness of China’s industry and exports, lowering to its lowest ever rate of 8.62 yuan by 1994. With an improved current account balance by the end of the ‘90s, the yuan was able to maintain a peg of CN¥8.27 against $1 from 1997 to 2005.
Lifting the peg against the US dollar
The peg was lifted on July 21 2005 and the yuan was revalued at 8.11 to 1 US dollar. Since 2006, the yuan has been a floating currency, allowed to float in a narrow margin around a fixed base rate, one that’s determined by a basket of world currencies.
By April 2008 the yuan was trading at 6.99 to the dollar, the first time in over ten years that one dollar could buy less than seven yuan. However, it was unofficially repegged to the US dollar during the 2008 global financial crisis. In June 2010, the yuan was again depegged and the People’s Bank of China released a statement maintaining that there would be no large swings in currency and that they would continue the reform of the RMB exchange rate regime. After this, the yuan rose and worldwide markets surged.
Reaching its highest ever value of 6.0395 to 1 US dollar on 14 January 2014, China has been raising the yuan to tame inflation, helping to repair the massive trade deficit.