One jiao — what is it good for?
03 Feb 2005
This is a one jiao note. A jiao (AKA mao) is a tenth of a yuan (AKA RMB). If, for the sake of convenience, we put RMB at 8 to the American dollar, that makes a jiao worth $0.0125. That’s slightly more than a penny. Jiao are necessary for making change (much like pennies), but you can’t really buy much with one jiao unless you’re in the vegetable market.
I certainly don’t like a pocket full of jiao, but I tolerate keeping coins to make change. One of the advantages (in my book) to living in Southern China is the predominance of coins over paper bills for the lower denominations (1 jiao, 5 jiao, 1 yuan). I get really annoyed, then, when I get handed paper jiao (pictured above). Paper jiao are for Beijingers!
So what do you do when you get handed paper jiao and you know you’re not going to be using it right away? I know some foreigners that don’t take their change if it’s paper jiao. You can try to give it to beggars, but some of them turn up their noses at anything less than 1 yuan. (The blind erhu players are usually less picky.) I once handed out paper jiao to kindergarteners as “prizes.” I got some funny looks for that. Even kindergarteners don’t like them.
My roommate Lenny gave me the best answer I’ve heard yet: use them for bookmarks. Genius. Any other ideas?