In this article we study the Chinese banknote designs since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. We first analyze the six editions (five issued and one unissued editions) of banknotes in the theoretical tradition for studying world society and its cultural shifts. The Chinese banknotes are found to go against the general trend of moving from designs featuring traditional goals and state actors to those displaying postmaterialist goals and individual actors. To help explain this phenomenon, we entertain and apply two alternative explanations, one based on the trend of increased political centralization and inward-looking tendency and the other applying a theoretical model built upon the literature on collective focus, to the Chinese currency for a better understanding of the changes in Chinese banknote designs. The trajectory of Chinese banknote designs reflects the tendency toward political centralization and a singular collective focus, with fluctuations in the middle period. We further discuss banknote design as a collective memory project and the transition in collective focus as a way of managing such a project.