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History of Foreign Exchange Business and Overseas Branches of Bank of China


 

In 1915, the Ministry of Finance approved five branches of Bank of China in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Hankou and Guangdong as pilot branches to start foreign exchange business. Shanghai branch set up a foreign exchange section to operate inward and outward bills, foreign currency loans, and spot & forward swaps business. In 1929, Bank of China started to establish branches overseas. Before the Anti-Japanese War, four overseas branches had been set up respectively in London, Osaka, Singapore and New York. By the end of 1930, with 62 overseas correspondent banks and 96 special agency banks across 43 countries, foreign exchange business of the bank had seen smooth progress. After 1942, with another six branches and offices set up in Sydney, Liverpool, Havana and so on, the bank's overseas network began to take shape.

Overseas branches of Bank of China further developed along with the reform and opening-up. On June 3, 1979, as approved by Deng Xiaoping, Bank of China Luxembourg branch was opened, which was the first overseas branch of Bank of China established after the founding of the People's Republic of China. Since then, branches of New York, Sydney, Paris, Tokyo and so on were established successively. Bank of China (Zambia) Limited and Budapest representative office were set up in 1997, Sao Paulo representative office in Brazil in 1998, and Johannesburg branch in South Africa and Bank of China (Malaysia) branch in 2000, which marked the entry of Chinese financial institutions into the markets of Africa, Eastern Europe and South America.

Since the reform and opening-up, Bank of China has accomplished its strategic goals of expanding from Asia to Europe, then entering the American market. From 1978 to the end of 2000, the number of overseas branches increased from 20 to 559, covering Hong Kong, Macau and 22 countries worldwide. The assets of overseas branches reached USD 155.1 billion, accounting for 42% of the total assets of Bank of China. By the end of 2007, the number of overseas branches had increased to 689, distributed in 28 countries and regions with total assets of RMB 1395.5 billion accounting for 23% of that of Bank of China. The profit of all overseas branches was RMB 26.2 billion, accounting for 42% of total profits of the year.

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