Home          |          News          |          Cultural Exchange          |          Changing Life          |          Gallery          
  Coupon Collection --Memory of an Era  

Youngsters wandering past expensive shops or enjoying luxurious meals across booming China can hardly imagine an era when coupons were as important as cash. Before China's reform and opening, many basic commodities and food items were in short-supply, so nearly every basic necessity was allocated or distributed by ration coupons.

Pupils are curious about the former grain coupons.

While many younger people have never seen them, China's long-abandoned rectangular ration tickets still conjure up strong memories for many people in the country. The thin, long paper tickets are distinguisabl by a variety of images, such as different landscapes, folk arts, quotations and buildings, which were each synonymous with one particular staple.

“In those days we did not expect luxuries; we were thankful if we could keep the wolf outside the door.” An old man in his sixties told Global Times at Liulichang, an antique shop district in downtown Beijing.

The coupons covered almost every basic necessity, ranging from egg and meat coupons to cloth coupons. “In the past, it was useless to have money only, as coupons are necessities, without them, you could not buy anything,” another senior collector added.

In the early years after the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC), coupons for basic commodities were not rare, but coupons for a bicycle or sewing machine were truly special. Getting a rare commodity such as a bicycle often required six months' salary and six months' worth of ration coupons.

It is difficult for people familiar with modern business transactions to understand the scenario of few shops and long lines for monthly allotments first.

Grain coupons issued in Zhejiang Province.

Since their debut in China in 1950s, coupons played an important role in Chinese people's daily life, helping the country to deal with poverty of generations past.

With the reform and opening up to the outside world, China underwent tremendous changes, and in 1993 coupons disappeared from circulation forever as China stepped into the market-oriented economy.

In-Depth MORE
Why the power of culture means culture is power
Zhao Shaohua: Using people power to promote our country
Ambassadors’ Interview MORE
Interview with Former Chinese Ambassador Hua Liming
· How many national flags have been raised in Tian'anmen Square since the foundation of the PRC?
· 1949: Highlight of the PRC Founding Ceremony
· National Day Origins in Different Countries
· How is the time of the flag raising ceremony in Tian'anmen Square set?
Old Photos MORE
| About us | E-mail | Contact |
Constructed by Chinadaily.com.cn
Copyright @ 2003--2009 Ministry of Culture, P.R.China. All rights reserved