Obtaining Chinese Yuan proved to be fairly easy. I was simply able to contact my bank, a branch of BMO Harris, and order the Chinese currency. The bank had the currency for me in about 4 days. The bills came in denominations of 100, about $17. While I originally figured I'd change the currency at the airport, several people who had gone to China recommended changing it beforehand as I would have enough to do with security on my way there and customs once in China.
There is about a 1/6 rate with $1 USD equal to 6-8 Chinese yuan, depending on when and from whom you get the exchange. According to the tour books, the Chinese prefer to trade in their own currency and, according to Road Scholar guidelines, I would need cash for taxis and meals when the tour group would be on its own. While major places would accept credit cards, many smaller places of business would not. I decided to carry enough cash to cover taxis, meals and small purchases. I had no plans to buy anything major except perhaps a painting and that I figured would be somewhere that I could use a credit card.