You can legally bring in or take out ¥20,000 in Chinese currency and must declare any cash amount exceeding US$5000 or its equivalent. It is illegal to import any printed material, film, tapes etc ‘detrimental to China’s politics, economy, culture and ethics’. This is a particularly sensitive subject in Tibet, but even here it is highly unusual to have Chinese customs officials grilling travellers about their reading matter. Maps and political books printed in Dharamsala, India, could cause a problem.
It is currently illegal to bring into China pictures, books, videos or speeches of/about or by the Dalai Lama. Moreover, you may be placing a recipient of these in danger of a fine or jail sentence. Images of the Tibetan national flag are even ‘more’ illegal.
If travelling from Nepal to Tibet by air or overland, it’s a good idea to bury your guidebook deep in your pack or sleeping bag (and to have a backup on your tablet or mobile phone), as customs officials have been known to confiscate Tibet guide books.
Be very circumspect if you are asked to take any packages, letters or photos out of Tibet for anyone else, including monks. If caught, you’ll most likely be detained, interrogated and then expelled.
Anything made in China before 1949 is considered an antique; you will need a certificate to take it out of the country. If it was made before 1795, it cannot legally be taken out of the country.