Abstract: In the past, the Chinese money printing industry was closed off to the world. Factories even used numbers instead of names. For example, the Beijing Money Printing Factory was originally called, “Factory 541.” Now, things have changed as the industry has started to open up. The “Beijing Money Printing Factory” sign hangs outside the factory’s gate. Most countries have not given such access to their money printing factories to the public.
From carving templates to printing the bills, it is at least a 10-step process. The first step is to select paper. Workers inspect the quality of the currency paper which is a specialized kind of paper. Besides being flexible and crumple-proof, the bill has a watermark picture to prevent counterfeiting. Because the watermarks face a certain direction, the bills have to stacked in the same direction as the water mark and have a hole punched on the side. The workers cannot make a single mistake or the watermarks in the bills will be inverted and the bill will be rejected.
After the currency papers are selected, they are brought to the gravure printing machines which can turn the papers into bills. Anyone who has the slightest knowledge about printing knows that they have to do some test printing first to get the best results. However, when printing cash bills, they cannot use currency paper for testing so they will just use regular paper. Because they are very strict about printing the right among of bills, one bill is already a lot.
Next, the bills are cropped. One sheet has 24 RMB bills which are cut and separated. Last is the most important step which is quality inspection. This happens at a big hall where bills are stacked on tables and women workers inspect them and organize them. Every table has a bright lamp to help the workers check the bills with the best precision possible. For example, they have to see if the numbers or text were printed wrong and if the color is right.
Everyday, each worker inspects tens of thousands of newly-printed bills. If any of them are caught slacking off, the managers will not forget about them. The way the workers move from one task to another with such skill is amazing. The most impressive part about managing the factory are the ones in charge with counting the bills. They have to make sure they have right amount of bills from the time the paper is selected to when the bills are transported to the treasury.
Afterwards, the bills are placed in a box which is then transported to the treasury of the Chinese People’s Bank where they are issued. Only after undergoing a series of processes such as issuing can they be considered “money.”
For the workers in the cash printing factories, the bills that they print and place on the trucks are just another regular product. Even though they are surrounded by money, the strict adherence to quota makes it impossible for anyone to mess with it.
Anything that happens in the factory can be recorded in the computer so none of the workers can just mess around. The first thing workers learn when they enter the factory is that they cannot go to other sections and cannot tell their friends where they work. They are not allowed to discuss the business with anyone.