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BOC to ramp up Belt and Road efforts

By Liu Zhihua | China Daily | Updated: 2023-10-19 09:48
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Bank of China's headquarters in Beijing. [Photo/VCG]

The Bank of China will continue to focus on providing high-quality financial services to enterprises in key areas including green development, the digital economy and innovation, and also enhance communication and cooperation with parties involved in the Belt and Road Initiative, a top bank official said.

As a major commercial bank, BOC has supported many BRI projects that improve people's livelihoods through diversified financial services in regions including Central Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Ge Haijiao, chairman of BOC, said in an exclusive interview with China Daily.

"The projects are widely welcomed and recognized by people from all walks of life," Ge said.

The bank, he added, would focus on key enterprises including leading ones in BRI economies, Chinese ones seeking a global presence and foreign companies in China.

It will also support crucial industries, such as those involved in green and digital areas and innovation, in order to serve the nation's dual-circulation development pattern.

Citing the lender's efforts in promoting bilateral and multilateral economic and trade cooperation, Ge said BOC will continue to work on projects in BRI economies that can improve people's well-being and benefit them.

The bank, he said, will strengthen communication and cooperation with multilateral financial institutions such as the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, to innovate BRI investment and finance cooperation models that will enable joint participation, cooperation and benefits for all parties involved.

BOC has the largest overseas branch network of all Chinese banks, covering 64 countries and regions, including 44 involved in the BRI. A representative office in Papua New Guinea and its Riyadh branch in Saudi Arabia were the newest additions this year.

By the end of June, the lender had been involved in more than 1,000 corporate credit projects in BRI economies, and provided credit support totaling more than $290 billion, which is part of its efforts to bring tangible benefits to people in various countries and regions through BRI programs.

It has also diversified investment and financing channels, and improved its comprehensive financial service system to provide sustainable and stable financial support to facilitate the joint building of the BRI.

The Belt and Road-themed bonds it offers are the biggest scale and cover the widest scope among those issued by financial institutions.

In September, the bank successfully issued the world's first batch of joint development BRI-themed green bonds to help contribute to financial connectivity among BRI economies.

It has also helped sovereign institutions and banks to conduct financing denominated in various currencies, facilitating cross-border cooperation.

The lender has assisted Poland, Portugal, the Emirate of Sharjah and many international financial institutions to issue panda bonds — renminbi-denominated bonds sold by a non-Chinese issuer within the Chinese mainland.

The bank on Monday assisted Egypt in issuing Africa's first batch of panda bonds, marking an important milestone in China-Egypt cooperation under the framework of the BRI.

Ge also said the bank has accumulated a wealth of experience in facilitating high-quality development of the Digital Silk Road.

"We have built a diversified financial support system to boost financial vitality for the construction of digital infrastructure," he said, adding that in recent years, the BOC has supported a number of projects including digital industrial parks, information highways and smart cities in countries and regions participating in the BRI.

The bank has also enhanced cross-border financial services models to safeguard the development of digital trade, he added.

In terms of cross-border e-commerce, the lender has improved online payment and financing products, and established cooperation with more than 500 financial institutions in BRI economies to provide one-stop digital financial services.

The bank has also been exploring innovative applications of fintech to build a bridge for digital currency cooperation.

Deeply involved in the pilot project of the Multilateral Central Bank Digital Currency Bridge, BOC will further comply with the trend of digital industrialization and industrial digitization and continue to explore the application of fintech innovations in BRI economies, Ge said.

The bank actively promotes green development under the framework of the BRI, he added.

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