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Bank of China's Taipei branch officially opens

Li Lihui (1st L), president of Bank of China, Wu Poh-hisung (2nd L), honorary chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT), Chiang Pin-kun (3rd L), chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, and Cai Rongjun, general manager of the Taipei branch of Bank of China, attend the opening ceremony of Bank of China's new branch in Taipei, southeast China's Taiwan, June 27, 2012. Bank of China officially opened its Taipei branch here on Wednesday, becoming the first commercial bank from the Chinese mainland to set up business on the island. (Xinhua/Hou Dongtao)

TAIPEI, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The Bank of China officially opened its Taipei branch on Wednesday, making it the first Chinese mainland bank to start commercial operations in Taiwan.

An opening ceremony was held in downtown Taipei and attended by Wu Poh-hisung, honorary chairman of the Chinese Kuomintang, Chiang Pin-kun, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation, and Li Lihui, president of the Bank of China, as well as senior executives from the island's major financial holding companies and other distinguished guests.

"The Taipei branch opening marks a major step in the Bank of China's development as well as a milestone in deepening economic and financial cooperation between the mainland and Taiwan," Li told the audience at the event.

He said the Bank of China will follow the rules of both the mainland and Taiwan and contribute more to cross-Strait economic and financial cooperation through its corporate banking, personal banking and other services.

Services available at the branch are mainly those associated with corporate finance.

As the first mainland bank to establish cooperative relations with Taiwanese banks and offer services to Taiwanese business people, the Bank of China has entered into business cooperation agreements with 10 Taiwanese banks and established corresponding banking relationships with 29 Taiwanese banks, according to Li.

The banking chief said the total credit that the Bank of China has offered to Taiwan-funded companies over the past three years is worth more than 160 billion yuan (around 25 billion U.S. dollars), and the bank plans to arrange 200 billion yuan more in credit to support the development of Taiwan-funded companies over the next three years.

During a brief interactive session with journalists after the ceremony, Li said that, from the perspective of a commercial bank, the Bank of China hopes that financial markets in both mainland and Taiwan can be much more open to each other and a cross-Strait currency clearing mechanism can be settled earlier.

He voiced hope that the Taipei branch will play a great role in currency renminbi clearing business in the future when a cross-Strait currency clearing mechanism is available, which, he said, will benefit those Taiwanese enterprises with mainland interests.

Li said his bank will make every effort to serve its clients including Taiwan-funded firms on the mainland, provided that prospective customers follow the mainland's industrial policies and meet the bank's fundamental standard of a qualified credit applicant.

The opening of the Taipei branch will enable the Bank of China to forge closer ties with the island-based headquarters of Taiwan-funded enterprises on the mainland and thus better serve them with the bank's global resources, according to Li.

Hailing the Bank of China's branch opening as a key development in cross-Strait financial ties, both Wu Poh-hisung and Chiang Pin-kun expressed hopes that cross-Strait economic and financial cooperation can be further deepened.

The mainland's Bank of Communications, whose branch opening application has been approved by Taiwan authorities, has yet to officially open its branch in Taipei. The mainland has so far approved the application of 10 Taiwanese banks to set up on the mainland, of which at least eight have already opened the branches.