Just read on the web that the average (annual) income in the United States is somewhere above 40 thousand USD, while the number for China is around 17 thousand CNY. The article went on to discuss the huge gap of purchasing power in the two countries. That makes me wonder: what’s the practical value of 1 kuai in our country? From what I’ve seen on App Store, Amazon, Xbox Live, etc, 1 dollar is pretty darn useful in the States. Well you guys might very likely have a much better idea about that than I do. So let’s talk about what good could 1 CNY do you instead.

I started this #1RMB hashtag on Twitter the almighty. Surprisingly, I got drowned in feedbacks within 1 hour. According to feedback, the following are the true value of 1 kuai in the reality:

  • 5 small mantou 馒头 in the refectory of a certain college
  • 1 sausage (packaged)
  • 1 big piece of filter paper (for science labs)
  • 1/3 bowl of reganmian 热干面 noodle (in Wuhan)
  • 1 very tiny sized bread, if you are in luck (in Guangzhou)
  • Brandless, fake, or half-sized bottle water
  • 1 youdunzi 油墩子, some sort of snack
  • 1 small pack of paper tissue, or 2 (depends on which city)
  • 1 bus ride (in Kunming)
  • 1 extra egg in your breakfast combo meal. Sorry, breakfast itself not included.
  • 1 “candied gourd” 糖葫芦 (not sure where, but in Beijing it’s at least 2 kuai)
  • 150g pancake 葱油饼 (in Shenzhen)
  • 1 single egg
  • 1 bus ride, the kind without air conditioning (in Guangzhou)
  • 1 disposable lighter, the cheaper kind.
  • 1kg tomatoes, or 4 baozi, or 2 youtiao 油条 (city unknown)
  • 1 condom from the auto vendor machine (in some cities it costs 2 kuai though)
  • A nice heap of electronic parts (resistor, capacitor, etc)
  • 1, or 2, or 0.5 copy of newspaper, depends on which paper you have in mind
  • Hire a “web commentator” a.k.a. 50-center/wumao/五毛党 to write 2 replies in your favor
  • 2 lollipops
  • Play 2 rounds of Taiko no Datsujin game (in Nanjing)
  • A couple of kebabs
  • An old fashioned icecream (not sure which city)
  • 2 bandaid
  • Shoe polishing service, 1 time
  • Take a piss at the nastiest kind of public toilet, no, no poop, that takes more (not sure which city)
  • 1MB GPRS data (at China Mobile) or 3MB 3G data (at China Unicom)
  • “Bloody nothing at the small shop downstairs” (not sure where but peace on you, man)
  • “Down here we have stopped using 1 kuai coins and notes, they are no good for anything” (not sure which city)
  • 1 envelope (2 mao) and 1 stamp (8 mao)
  • 1 pathetically small roast sweet potato
  • 0.04 cup of coffee at Starbucks (Shenzhen)
  • A ball pen refill
  • A mind in peace after you give the coin to a beggar

That’s it for the time being (3:08 2010/11/18 GMT+8). It looks like the majority of people are using food as the measurement, especially baozi (yeah our favorite). However, the unit itself isn’t so stable. Depends on where you are and what kind of baozi exactly you are talking about, your 1 kuai coin might get you 4 tiny sized 小笼包, or up to 4 small vegetable baozi, or 1 meat baozi in more proper size. But no matter how you look at it, the power is 1 kuai is pathetic at best.

Even ignoring the (1:6.5 or so) exchange rate, Americans are on average making several times more money than we do. Yet one good old dollar could still get you somewhere. And in China? I don’t know what is “inflation” if this is not.

Track the development of #1RMB hashtag here.

Thanks everyone for your kind reply. 非常感谢大家的积极反馈。XD