Woman Who Inspired Most-collected Chinese Banknote Dies at 90

Posted on 1/16/2020

Liang Jun was pictured driving a tractor on the 1960 1 Yuan note.

The woman who became famous as China’s first female tractor driver and was featured on the most-collected Chinese banknote died January 13, 2020, at the age of 90, according to news reports.

Liang Jun’s fame spread after she was depicted driving a tractor on the 1960-dated 1 Yuan banknote. The note has been graded by Paper Money Guaranty® (PMG®) more than any other Chinese paper money. The PMG Population Report shows that more than 300,000 of the notes have been graded by the certification service.

Of the 15,997 Pick# 874a notes that PMG has certified, only this one merited a grade of 70 EPQ★.
Liang Jun was the model worker depicted driving a tractor on the note’s obverse.
Click image to enlarge.

Born in 1930 into a peasant family in the far northeast of feudal China, Liang was sent to be a 12-year-old child bride in a nearby landlord’s family, according to a 2009 China Central TV article.

Two years later, Heilongjiang Province, where she lived, was one of the first areas liberated from Japanese occupation, enabling her to avoid being married off. Instead, she attended a school set up by the Chinese Communist Party. Books with titles such as “How Are Iron and Steel Made” and “Heroine,” a novel about a woman fighting the Nazis, were very influential to her, according to the article.

In 1948, Liang applied to attend a new course that trained tractor drivers and was accepted, only to find out she was the only woman in the 70-person program. She joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1949.

In 1957 and 1960, she had roles in two “explorations” of what was known as the Great Northern Wilderness, helping cultivate almost 5,000 acres of undeveloped land in each development project, according to cctv.com. In 1960, she became Deputy Director General of the Agricultural Bureau in Xiangfang District in the city of Harbin and Station Master of the Heping Tractor Station.

But perhaps her greatest role was as a model worker, after the Soviet pattern of elevating hard-working laborers to noble status. She was included in textbooks and, when China issued its third series of Renminbi banknotes in 1957, a smiling Liang driving a tractor was depicted on the obverse of the 1 Yuan. The note remained in circulation until 2000.

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