Bank of China is developing correspondent banking relationships with U.S. banks in order to keep pace with growing trade and finance between the two countries.

Bai Shizhen, director and general manager of the Bank of China, said her bank has so far established correspondent relationships with more than 200 banks in over 50 U.S. cities.

The official said the bank remains "committed to developing and maintaining" its relationships with U.S. institutions as trade and finance with the United States increases.

Bank of China is one of several Chinese banks developing their international operations as China's economy burgeons.

Other Applicants Listed Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China, for example, have applied for New York branch licenses, while Farmers Bank of China has applied for a Los Angeles license.

Separately, Ton Zhiguang, chairman of the newly-created Export and Import Bank of China arrived in the United States with top Chinese financial and business leaders on Monday to promote U.S.-Chinese trade.

The government-owned Bank of China is China's biggest bank and the dominant Chinese financial institution for trade and foreign exchange.

The Beijing-based bank has $183 billion in assets, including $1.7 billion in the U.S., one branch in Los Angeles and two in New York.

Sole Dealer for Government

The bank is the only Chinese financial institution authorized to enter into international agreements on behalf of the state. It recently issued $400 million in five-year bonds and $100 million in 20-year bonds in the United States. The issue was rated A- by Fitch Investors Service Inc.

Speaking last week in Boca Raton, Ha., at the 72nd annual convention of the Bankers Association for Foreign Trade, Ms. Shizhen said her bank is closely scrtinizing new financial instruments in the United States such as asset securitization.

The Chinese official noted that China's trade with the United States has increased 11-fold from 1979 to $27.6 billion last year, making the U.S. China's single most important trading partner.

U.S. institutions also constitute the largest group of investors in China with more than $11 billion committed to over 10,000 projects, she added.

As a result, Ms. Shizehn said, Bank of China is working with U.S. banks to develop funds transfer, trade settlement, trade finance, and foreign exchange as well as joint ventures, project finance, leasing and loan syndications.

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