by Levi J Parsons
SYDNEY, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) -- The Bank of China (BOC) celebrated the 75th anniversary of its Sydney branch on Friday at an illustrious event attended by numerous Chinese and Australian dignitaries.
For those on hand, the event signified a great deal more than the bank's incredible success over the decades, for many the milestone represented the enduring friendship and strengthening relations of the two nations.
When explaining the fascinating history of the BOC branch, Reserve Bank of Australia Governor Philip Lowe described the anniversary as "a story of resilience and friendship."
"When conflict came to Singapore in 1942, Mr. Parkane Hwang from the Bank of China's Singapore branch decamped and sort a visa to travel to Australia to establish a branch of the Bank of China in Sydney," Lowe told Xinhua.
"One can only imagine it must have been a difficult and stressful time, but true to Australia's welcoming nature, especially for those in need, the visa was granted."
Less than one year later, a banking license was also given to Hwang and according to archival records, this was considered a clear sign of friendship between Australia and China, because at the time it was very "unusual" for such licenses to be granted.
Shortly after the Chinese bank's inception down under, the then Reserve Bank governor Hugh Armitage wrote a letter to the branch.
"I feel sure that the entry of your bank, into the Australian banking system will not only be of great value in facilitating business relationships between China and Australia but it will also help to foster the increasing bond of friendship between our respective countries."
For Lowe, "75 years later this statement remains just as true as it was in 1942, despite the tremendous changes we have seen in both of our countries."
From somewhat humble beginnings as the first Chinese bank to operate in Australia, the BOC has been a remarkable success and has steadily increased its size and business scope.
"The Bank of China now has 10 branches in Australia and its assets in Australia have grown by 37 billion Australian dollars (29.94 billion U.S. dollars), an increase of 1,000 times since 1985," Chinese Ambassador to Australia Cheng Jingye said.
"Sydney's branch is also the first Chinese bank in Australia to issue banking cards, supporting both Australian dollars and RMB and successfully issued the first eight year-RMB bond in the Australian market."
As well, the branch now holds the distinction of being appointed as Australia's RMB clearing center, making it easier for various Australian and Chinese companies to do business.
But the ambassador also pointed out that the economic accomplishments of the organization are not what he is most proud of.
"The Bank of China in Sydney, also fulfills social responsibilities with participation in various activities organised by local communities," Cheng said.
"The story of the branch mirrors the development of China-Australia relations which have grown from strength to strength over the past 45 years," he added.
"Our exchanges and cooperation in various fields have reached and preceded width and depths."
Former prime minister Bob Hawke also shared the emotional sentiments of Cheng and he congratulated the bank on its long and proud history down under.
"I've had the opportunity of watching the remarkable development of China," he said.
"There is no other country that has benefited so much, from the economic revolution of China, as we have in this country and the development of the relationship between our two countries, your bank, The Bank of China, has played an indispensable role."
"I wish your bank all the best in the future and trust that we will continue to grow together in harmony and a wave of growing prosperity for the people of our two great countries and for the people of our region."