The UK’s relations with China may be at a low ebb but China Construction Bank Corp’s City of London outpost is banking on ever closer financial flows between the two countries.
The branch is the sole renminbi clearing bank in the UK, making it an essential conduit to potentially staggering flows of Chinese money and investment. It has cleared some 64 trillion yuan ($10 trillion) of transactions since 2014 — the largest volume outside of Asia — and its top UK executive is planning for growth.
Yang Aimin, who has run the UK operations of China’s second-largest lender since 2018, said in an interview last week he is targeting double-digit clearing volume growth in 2022 after it grew 18% last year to 11.9 trillion yuan. He’s also expecting the business of servicing Chinese companies listed in London to grow.
“Hong Kong has embarked on a path that can be largely replicated by London,” he says, noting the existing Shanghai-London Stock Connect — which enables Chinese firms to list in the UK and vice versa — could ultimately open the door to a similar arrangement for trading bonds.