Much like currency in the United States, Chinese renminbi(RMB) have undergone a few changes in the past two decades to help sort the fakes from the Real McCoy. In nearly six years living here, I've only encountered a fake bill once in Jiangsu, having been used in shops and taxis or carefully swapped for legitimate bills in transactions. Much of the time, with a little know-how, it's not so difficult to spot fake Chinese money. The problem with this batch is that the bills pass many of the usual tests. So how do you spot these fakes? According to a Weibo put out by the Ministry of Public Security, the bills start with the serial number PL07857.
There are also a few other things you can check:
The fakes are several millimeters short, according to reports. Chinese currency denominations each come in different sizes—ranging from the RMB 1 bill up to the RMB 100 bill—so you'll need to use another RMB 100 bill for comparison.
The metallic band that runs through the bill, just off-center, has ¥100 written on exposed portions of the strip which blend with the image of the Great Hall of the People. The metallic insert in the new fakes is less clear than in their legitimate counterparts, so you'll also need another bill for comparison to carry out this test.
Ink used to print 100 on the bottom left of the note and the Spirograph-looking design on the top right of the front side offer visual tricks to help determine the authenticity of a banknote.
The bright green 100 should turn to a dull, dark green when viewed from anything other than a 90° angle.
The design on the top right of the bill is a harder trick to make out. If you hold the bill sideways and look at the surface at close to a 180° angle, another 100 should appear.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Luckily, there have been no reports of these fake 100 RMB bills spreading to other areas, but it's still a good idea to be careful. There are other fakes out there. The bills you give out at shops and in taxis are often scrutinized carefully. While it may feel awkward to return the favor, it feels more awkward to get fooled with a fake. If you do get a fake, police ask that you turn them in to a police station, which can help them determine where fake bills have circulated and what new counterfeits are on the market.
* It was an RMB 20 bill and I'm still a bit embarrassed that I accepted what was pretty obviously a fake bill. The colors and textures should have been a giveaway. Note: it did not resemble the fake note above.