Is RMB and Yuan the Same? Yes

This may seems a very easy question, but it is frequent one – trust me, I receive several emails everyday from visitors to Shanghai, and many people got confused of the difference between RMB and Yuan. For example, yesterday, when I answer a question with 2500 RMB, my reader asked: Is RMB and Yuan the same thing?

Yes. It is the same. RMB is the abbr. of Ren Min Bi, or the People’s Money. It is the official currency (maybe the only one) in China.

Yuan is the base unit for RMB – just as Dollar in USD. This is the currency system in China:

分 Fen cent

角 Jiao dime

圆 Yuan dollar

The first characters (you may not be able to see them if your computer don’t have Chinese font support) are the Chinese character of the currency unit. The second is its Pinyin / English name, and the last one is the counterpart in USD.

So Yuan and RMB is not always the same (as Yuan is just one of the currency units in RMB), but they can often be used interchangeably. 2500 RMB and 2500 Yuan is exactly the same amount of money.

PS. I know this is too easy a question, but I would rather spend sometime to help to answer this one. The reason I am doing this is, I understand some very easy question may not have an easy answer for first time visitors. Just as I found out in the comments of this entry:Frequently Used Phone Numbers in Shanghai, people even not familiar with emergency number 119. What can be more easier than this question?

19 thoughts on “Is RMB and Yuan the Same? Yes

  1. ujj, wow, now there’s another term, “CNY”? In Singapore, “CNY” typically stands for Chinese New Year. Hahaha.

    Is “CNY” used commonly in China to refer to the RMB, though?

    Curious Ling

  2. Hi

    One of my friends will visit china he will arrive in shanghai hongqio international airport tomorrow at 6:00pm we don’t want to stay in shanghai that night and like to move to yangzhou 扬州 so I need help

    Is there any bus go from shanghai to Yangzhou at the night around 8:00 -9:00pm

    If not can I take train from Shanghai Railway Station to Yangzhou?

    And how can I go from the airport to shanghai railway station

    I hope if some one has any information about all these questions to help me

    And thank you

  3. Eh? So far I thought yuan (元, 圆))would be a base currency unit and would also refer to HKD in Hong Kong, NTD in Taiwan and to USD in informal speech if people know they talk about dollars.

  4. CNY , same as USD or SGD, acronym from english, which is standard in global circulation. RMB is acronym from chinese.

  5. Thanks a lot for answering this stupid question. My bank just denied a wire transfer to RMB but after reading this post when I asked for CNY, they agreed!!

  6. The RMB is the national common term for the Yuan, whereas CNY is the international banking code for the RMB, or Chinese currency.

    I’m a little confussed about:

    分 Fen cent

    角 Jiao dime

    圆 Yuan dollar

    no one uses the term ‘Dollar’, ‘Dime’ or ‘Cent’ in China to describe Chinese money unless it is relevent to the US$, but these terms cannot reflect the same currency values so cannot be used. The term for the US$ is ‘meiyuan’. When Chinese people talk about HK$ they simply use the Chinese ‘gangbi’. Another confussing term to visitors is the use of the word ‘Kwia’, which is the common term for RMB – shi kwai – meaning 10 RMB. Most foreigners living/working in China would not use the yuan (or YU ARN as incorrectly pronounced by Americans) but use kwai instead. The closest pronunciation of Yuan is similar to Ywen in English.

  7. Kwai actually is a term to measure quantity, you can also say 1 kwai Dan Gao(one piece of cake), and yes, people who live in China use this term for money as well.

  8. why we are using word RMB. isn’t it’s confusstion. better to use word Yuan only.

  9. i have a chinese 1945 5000 yuan note and want to know if they stopped ,because of hyper inflation, the just yuan concept after the second world war.

  10. Very useful answer. This sounds like the difference in the UK between “Sterling” and “Pound”, although the latter is really short for “Pound Sterling”. The currency code is GBP for Great Britain Pounds.

  11. Thanks for this explanation. i have several times thought about what the difference was, as they use both terms in the articles in New York Times.

  12. I am still trying to understand the difference between the values of RMB and Yuan. Please explain why the Yuan rate is currently 116 Yuan per US dollar and the RMB rate is currently 8 RMB per US dollar. Please explain the difference in valuations as I thought Yuan and RMB were synonymous.

    Thanks, Deb

  13. I go to google to find the answer then I find the explanation here. Thank you. this realy helpfull

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