Best banking option for me?

I'm moving to GZ in around 20 days and I'm trying to find the best way to bank in China. I know there's new tax laws for foreigners (who knows how much they will be enforced) but BOC just held my 2k wire transfer and asked for evidence that I don't use it for trade or live in China.

Ideally I would like to use wechat and not be stuck with cash but I'm afraid of accounts getting frozen and having large amounts stuck in limbo.  Wechat already shows my 200k rmb / year limit and asking to sign up to their tencent bank or something.

Some questions:
Is it basically impossible to open a personal account in HK without living there?

Will depositing RMB in cash to my personal account set off red flags?

Any suggestions for avoiding ATM foreign fees?

The first question I have is do you work in China?  If you do, there is a $50,000 limit on transfers out of China.  There is no limit though on money you can deposit.  And, in order to transfer money out of China you must show your work contract and that you have properly paid taxes. 

My bank required me to bring a 'stamped' copy of my employment contract as well as go to the tax office and bring a tax statement. They keep these on file and I have to repeat the same process every year.  But, with these documents, I have no problems with wiring money or with weChat.

I have not tried the Hong Kong banking route, but on Facebook there are several companies that advertise the service and I have several friends that have accounts in Hong Kong banks.  So, it doesn't appear that hard.  The issue though is getting money from China into your Hong Kong account.  And, without "special" permission, weChat in China will NOT WORK WITH A HONG KONG ACCOUNT and vice versa.  I have weChat pay, and can't use it at most locations in Hong Kong because it is Chinese weChat pay.

The new laws are mostly designed to tax the millions of freelancers and self-employed people in China that make money but don't pay any taxes.  I have several friends that buy in China and sell in their home countries and pay no taxes on the money they earn.  From what I understand, it is these friends that will have problems with the new tax laws.

Getting  Charles Schwab account (the one that includes a checking and a debit card) will allow you to have unlimited free ATM withdraws (they have unlimited reimbursement for ATM fees globally).  As far as moving money around, you could use the Schwab ATM card and online services to transfer money from your US account(s) to Charles Schwab and then using the ATM to withdraw cash with then allow you to deposit via ATM to a China bank account which will save you on transfer fees once you open a local China bank account.    However you still should contact all your banks/credit cards to make them aware of your travel plans and the country where you will be using their services in order to avoid any problems with not being able to get to your money overseas.

No, my money comes from my American business directly into my chinese account. I provided them documents. I don't earn any money in China, only bring money in.

I got a capital one 360 checking account just now. Hopefully the bank won't give me trouble for bringing money in.

Once again, China does not control money into the country.  You can spend all the dollars, Euros, Rupees and whatever other currency you want.  You are limited though on the amount of CNY you can convert or take out of the country.  The daily limit is ~$800 USD and yearly limit depends on your Visa status.

There is a very easy work around, open a Chinese bank account.  Deposit all the rmb you want, then withdraw the money in your home country using your ATM card.  You will be limited to $800 per day, but you get bank to bank exchange rates and a $1 to $5 transaction fee.  You can tie this account to weChat or Alipay for cashless payments in the country

You can use your foreign bank ATM card in China for cash withdrawals in rmb.  Once again, bank to bank rates.  I think the daily limit in China is 20,000 rmb, but your bank will probably have a daily limit.  Wells limits me to $2500 usd per day.  This limit is mostly to protect against fraud...

Note:  this method worked for me for several months until I got a residence permit.  But, this is also what the new tax laws are trying to monitor (money made in China that was not taxed)....

As an American, you are going to be severely hampered. Very few HK banks will do business with you simply because of Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) . I wrote about it on my blog HERE. I can tell you that I was denied at three HK banks, and had my existing bank accounts closed when this bill was passed.

They said that they didn't think that I would do anything criminal. Their concern was the enormous millions of dollars in fees and penalties, if the bank made a mistake in filling out the paperwork. My paltry account wasn't worth the hassle.

Anyways, you will also suffer discrimination banking in China. Solely because of this act, as well. However, if you have a Z-visa, you will be able to get a bank account DURING THE ACTIVE DATES OF THE VISA.  You will just need to show the bank your passport and your Z-visa and you'll be set.

Note that there is a $50,000 limit of money that you can bring into China from overseas. This is per year and per person. The trick and work around is to have a trusted friend deposit the money in their account for you. Do you have trusted friends? Another thing that you can do is get married and do everything under your Chinese family. Of course, that too is fraught with risk.

Best of luck.

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