Bank of China Limited (simplified Chinese: 中国银行) is one of the 5 biggest state-owned commercial banks in the People’s Republic of China.
It was founded in 1912 by the Republican government to replace the Imperial Bank of China. It is the oldest bank in mainland China still in existence. From its establishment until 1942, it issued banknotes on behalf of the Government along with the “Big Four” banks of the period: the Farmers Bank of China, Bank of Communications and Central Bank of the Republic of China. Its headquarters are in Xicheng District, Beijing.
As at 2009, it was the second largest lender in China overall, and the 5th largest bank in the world by market capitalization value. Although it is not a central bank, the Bank of China is licensed to issue banknotes in two of China’s Special Administrative Regions. Until 1942, the Bank of China issued banknotes in mainland China on behalf of the Government of the Republic of China. Today, the Bank issues banknotes in Hong Kong and banknotes in Macau (under the Portuguese name “Banco da China, Sucursal de Macau”), along with other commercial banks in those regions.