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January 27, 2007
As you all should know, the Chinese currency is the RMB (人民币 Renminbi or People's Currency) and its basic denomination is the yuan. The most popular note, I imagine, is the 1 yuan note whose basic value is about 1/15 of a pound. These notes exchange hands all the time: in taxis, restaurants, street markets, vendors etc. etc.
So I was quite surprised when I came upon this in Changsha, Hunan:
As you can see, the note looks fairly crisp despite the dog-ears (I think the 1999 marks the year the type of note was introduced into circulatin, rather than the note itself).
But there's something unusual about the note. If you look closely at the bottom line, there's a row of Chinese characters stamped on:
The message reads "退党，退团，退队，三退保平安". I think this is adequately translated as: "Quit the Party, Quit the League, Quite the Youth (Movement), the three (renouncements) ensure safety."
It therefore delivers what could be interpreted as an ominous message to those within the party tiers at both the very young, youth and adult levels. It's clearly just a simple stamp and it's very easy to distribute. It might not be effective, but the message is reminiscent of the old Communist (and anti-Communist) slogans. If it's carefully used, then it's practically untraceable and could cause quite a nuisance for authorities and for anyone actually caught with the note.
One of my friends guessed it might be the Falungong (Cult) movement. It could be a variety of other movements ranging from Taiwanese looking to stir up trouble to seperatists in XiZang (Tibet) and XinJiang.
Anyhow, it was very interesting to see from a historical perspective and one wonders if these folk might use such stamps in English to spread their anti-Government propaganda to those who are coming to China for Beijing 2008.