China: The Two-Headed Bank

Few institutions in the Orient appear more mysterious—or more Eastern—to Westerners than the Bank of China. Like a statue of a Bodhisattva, it seems to have many faces and arms. In Saigon, Tokyo, Sydney or New York, the local branches of the bank are controlled by the Chinese Nationalists and report to Taiwan. In Hong Kong, Singapore and London, the bank appears to be the same, but the branches are controlled by the Chinese Communists and answer to Peking. Remembering which is which can become confusing.

Off to New York. The unnatural split began in 1949, when the Chinese Communists...

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