The Nanfang / Blog


Read it and weep: a price list from Shekou in the early 1980s

Posted: 10/14/2013 7:00 am

Here is the list, image courtesy of Shenzhen Noted

Local blog Shenzhen Noted has published a price list of items in Shekou from the early 1980s that is a real reminder that the past is a foreign country.

The list, which came from Shekou Industrial Zone Life Services Bureau, gives the “approximate” (just about everything was negotiable) cost of a list of meats, vegetables, spices and dairy products.

Prices would fluctuate and items would become unavailable due to outside forces such as typhoons. But here is a translation of the list of the cost of 1 jin (approximately half a kilo) of the following items:

Pork: 2.4 – 2.5 RMB

Beef: 2.2 – 2.3 RMB

Tripe: 2 RMB

Frozen chicken: 2.6 RMB

Eggs: 1.7 RMB

Freshwater fish: 1.3 – 1.4 RMB

Seawater fish: 0.45 RMB

Green vegetables: 0.35 RMB

Melons: 0.15 RMB

Green beans: 0.4 RMB

Green onions: 0.5 RMB

Ginger: 0.6 RMB

Sponge gourds: 0.45 RMB

Balsam pears 0.4 RMB

Onions: 0.3 RMB

Tofu: 0.5 RMB

Preserved eggs: 0.25 RMB

Salted eggs: 0.25 RMB

According to the blog, the reason why the list contains RMB next to each price is that Hong Kong dollars and Foreign Exchange Certificates (or waihui 外汇), a surrogate currency used by foreigners, were also common.

Keep in mind that prices in Shenzhen were higher than in parts of the country such as Hunan and Sichuan, where the migrants came from to build the dazzling metropolis we see before us today.



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